Hill Dems Praise FCC Roaming Rule Victory

Call it Important Consumer Protection, Buttressing of Agency Authority in Wireless Broadband Sphere

A D.C. Federal Appeals court was getting praise from top Capitol Hill Democrats on Tuesday over its decision rejecting a Verizon challenge to the FCC's data roaming rules.

Those rules require wireless companies to offer data roaming agreements to competitors on reasonable terms, just as the FCC requires voice roaming deals on reasonable terms.

Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), ranking member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, called it a victory for consumers and an example of the FCC doing the job Congress asked it to do.

"Congress has tasked the FCC with protecting consumers and promoting competition in the 21st century communications marketplace -- and requiring reasonable terms for data roaming does just that," said Waxman. "We expect to be able to use our mobile broadband devices anytime and anywhere and regional wireless providers simply can't compete without offering nationwide service. Today's decision from the D.C. Circuit is a victory for the American consumer's ability to access the wonders of mobile technology, no matter what wireless carrier they choose."

That sentiment was echoed by Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), ranking member of the Communications Subcommittee Eshoo, who personally called on the commission to adopt data roaming rules in a March 2011 letter, said she welcomed the decision. "These rules promote competition and the seamless availability of wireless services consumers have come to expect. Such rules are particularly important for smaller wireless carriers that often have little choice for roaming partners other than their largest rivals."

"I applaud this important court decision to protect consumers from racking up exorbitant data charges when roaming outside of their own carrier's network," said Rep. Mike Doyle (D-Pa.), a member of the subcommittee. "This decision emphasizes the importance of keeping competitive wireless carriers strong, and it is going to make it much easier for many consumers to use their mobile devices while they're traveling or commuting. All wireless carriers must be able to offer data services at comparative speeds to other wireless providers in order to stay competitive, given how important mobile services have been in today's economy. I was glad to see Chairman Genachowski's leadership in implementing the FCC's rules in 2011, and I am glad to see the FCC's authority to protect wireless subscribers reaffirmed today."