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Cellphones Communications

FCC Requires Data-Roaming Agreements 101

itwbennett writes "The FCC has voted to require data roaming agreements between carriers in a move largely targeting AT&T and Verizon, the two largest mobile carriers in the US. 'What good is [a] smartphone if it can't be used when a subscriber is roaming across the country or even across the county?' said Commissioner Michael Copps. 'Our regulations must reflect today's reality and not make artificial distinctions between voice and data telecommunications.'"
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FCC Requires Data-Roaming Agreements

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  • by oldhack ( 1037484 ) on Thursday April 07, 2011 @09:24PM (#35752574)
    Stop posting stories with summaries that actually make sense. You're confusing us.
  • LOLWUT?! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 07, 2011 @09:33PM (#35752636)

    Not sure how my Verizon CDMA phone is going to roam its data on over to AT&T's GSM network.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      You missed the point. Verizon and AT&T would be forced to make agreements with CDMA and GSM providers respectively, not with eachother.

      • This is stupid. it's clearly a case where capitalism should find an equilibrium between absurdly good coverage, cost and cosnumer demand.

        they shul dbe putting all their eggs in the net neutrality basket.

        the only use of this is a gambit to give this chit up to get something else. more likely they will just piss off some libetarian congressman and rue the day,

      • And to the GSM carriers out there: "What other GSM providers?" Isn't AT&T about to have a monopoly in that?

        • by Fjandr ( 66656 )

          For all intents and purposes, AT&T has that monopoly now. It will only fail to have it if stopped. The default, and most likely, outcome is the merger will continue. Given the latest from Congress, if the merger fails there will be a bill targeting the FCC's ruling which disclaims their ability to regulate in this area. If there is a suit path available, or a barely reasonable facsimile thereof, expect it to be litigated to the Supreme Court, where the merger will be upheld.

    • I think the idea is that this could enable phones that are compatible with multiple technologies. I think this is particularly geared towards LTE which AT&T and Verizon are moving to for 4G (T-mobile as well, and Sprint is the odd one out). Of course, the carriers could always block them since that's how things work in American Telecommunications. In the end, it's very likely that this will have no positive benefit for the consumer and carriers will just use it as an excuse to jack up rates... but let's

      • The FCC, at the very least, has intentions of standing up for the consumer. In practice though, they hardly ever get it right.

        Well, thankfully, the FCC created all those rules that gave us mobile data access in the first place. It wasn't so long ago that all I had was a big beige brick phone that didn't even text, so I'm grateful that they finally required phone manufacturers to make smartphones, and cellular providers to sell them and support them with data networks. If it weren't for that, how I would I be able to watch cats that hiccup and fart at the same time while I'm on the train, or alert everyone who knows me to the fact

    • That's the providers' problem to solve. Our bureautators have spoken, and it's law now, by due process of... oh, wait...
    • by umghhh ( 965931 )
      HO work well in Europe. Maybe US should upgrade their networks to standards used elsewhere.

      I suppose now I am deemed a socialist or even a commie. I hope marines are not on their way....

    • because in a few years, they will both be running LTE ?

  • In that case... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jd ( 1658 ) <> on Thursday April 07, 2011 @09:35PM (#35752648) Homepage Journal

    ...the FCC can start by abolishing all policies, abandoning all stances and cancelling all position papers that distinguish between a voice network and the Internet. That includes imposing any regulations from regular phone services, such as common carrier constraints, monitoring constraints, price gouging constraints and peering obligations.

    • by guruevi ( 827432 )

      The problem is that currently there is still a difference between the voice network and the data network. The data network just takes up multiple fixed-size voice channels to transfer data. This is off course changing with 3G/4G where voice will also be packetized but there is still a historical reason for it to be different. The pricing difference however is based on corporate greed and the fact that regulations were effectively abolished when AT&T was split up.

  • by Jordan Catalano ( 915885 ) on Thursday April 07, 2011 @10:20PM (#35752990) Homepage
    "What good is [a] smartphone if it can't be used when a subscriber is roaming across the country or even across the county?"

    It's good for someone without $600+ a year to spend on mobile data. My Droid is quite happy with the phone unactivated and running off WiFi.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      I'm not sure I get your point. Data plans are 29.99 and net you a capped 5gigs. Since you already are accustomed to using wifi I'm sure you don't actually need 5gigs for web surfing, facebook checking etc while not actually at home. Nor do you run the risk of a 600$ phone bill if you tell it not to use data while in roaming mode. In other words that 30 bucks a month gives you a lot of flexibility at low risk. some sort of peering agreement between providers would make this even better.

    • by afidel ( 530433 )
      Virgin offers unlimited text and data plus 300 minutes a month for $300/year but 'suffers' from only using Sprint's network. For my wife's use this is a non-issue but I'm not sure I'd want it to be my only phone as we travel outside of their coverage map fairly regularly.
    • how do you make a call when you're no where near any open WIFI ? How do people call you?

      oh, you must live in mom's basement, because that is the only way that makes sense.

      • On a non-smartphone cell without an expensive data plan.
        • Couldn't you just throw the SIM card in the Droid and set it to always default to WiFi? Same result, but it saves carrying two phones.

          • The Droid is a Verizon phone, which means no SIM. (Often, people condemn CDMA because it has no SIM. This is inaccurate; CDMA networks in other countries have SIM-equivalents. It's just Sprint and Verizon that won't do it.)
      • Huh ... you don't need WiFi (or cellular data for that matter) just to make a CALL. Nothing stops you throwing a 'smartphone' on a plan without cellular data and still using it to make calls and SMS. If you wanted to be doubly sure you weren't using cellular data then just turn that feature off (I'm assuming all smartphones can do this - the iPhone certainly has a 'Cellular Data ON/OFF' toggle so I'm sure most other phones do too.

        • by socsoc ( 1116769 )
          Until the phone company quickly realizes that you're on a smartphone and then here comes the mandatory data plan. They do know what device you use.
          • by xnpu ( 963139 )

            Exactly. I would much rather see this legislated instead. Carriers should be forced to be device neutral. If I want to use a fancy smartphone as a dumb SMS terminal, that should be my decision, not theirs.

          • Well I'm not American so I wasn't aware they did that. That's ridiculous. I buy a calling/data plan from my carrier, not my phone. What phone I choose to use on that plan is completely irrelevant and none of their business.

            (From my perspective as a non-USian, at least ... hell I've had my current phone on 3 different carriers just within the last year).

            • Well I'm not American so I wasn't aware [US telecom carriers mandate data plans for smartphone terminals, rather than being terminal-agnostic]. That's ridiculous. I buy a calling/data plan from my carrier, not my phone. What phone I choose to use on that plan is completely irrelevant and none of their business.

              That's because the US laws are set up to encourage telecom cartels.

              On one hand they keep hands off the contractual arrangements between the carriers and customers, on the stated theory that competitio

    • I can afford a good Verizon plan (and given their coverage quality at my workplace, I'd be insane to go to AT&T, regardless of how good they may be elsewhere), but you're right on the money. If my phone wasn't my primary business contact, dropping over $100/mo for a portable data device would be idiotic. As it is, it's just moderately stupid.
    • by thetartanavenger ( 1052920 ) on Friday April 08, 2011 @08:53AM (#35756048)
      Jesus I forget how much us carriers screw their customers. Mobile internet costs me £60 for the year (less than $100) here in the uk! Up to 5 GB per month with a gradually slower connection if you go over and no overage fees. We have real pay as you go options where you put credit on your phone and it only goes down if and when you use it. Or internet for only the days when you use it for £1/day (~$1.50). It's insane how much you guys are forced to pay. No charges for incoming calls or messages. The ability to switch between any network if you have an unlocked phone and at least 5 major carriers to choose from with many many resellers with their own deals. The legal requirement to be able to unlock your phone (for a fee) if you want. Seriously, how do you all let them get away with it? And now with the possibility (probability) that t-mobile and at&t will merge taking away the only large carrier that seemed to not completely screw over their customers.
      • Tmobile isn't the decent carrier... It's only notable because they are att compatible. Sprint is the decent cell provider in the Us. With their prepaid services like boost mobile you can get unlimited voice text, and 3g data for 45$/mo. Virgin has some good deals too. And you can opt for a modest flat rate if your a lite user, and save tons. And everywhere I've tried, Sprint's network has been superior to Verizon, with far fewer dropped calls here in SoCal. Plus they've got nice cheap 4g service, and

        • Tmobile isn't the decent carrier... It's only notable because they are att compatible.

          They certainly aren't decent, but seem to screw their customers less was what I meant, lesser of two evils style. And they're not really even AT&T compatible. Same technologies, but different frequencies, for 3G at least.

          Sprint is the decent cell provider in the Us. With their prepaid services like boost mobile you can get unlimited voice text, and 3g data for 45$/mo. Virgin has some good deals too. And you can opt for a modest flat rate if your a lite user, and save tons. And everywhere I've tried, Sprint's network has been superior to Verizon, with far fewer dropped calls here in SoCal. Plus they've got nice cheap 4g service, and have much longer than the rest.

          If nothing else, Sprint is forcing att & verizon to provide almost as reasonable prepaid plans.

          They're sounding a bit more reasonable. Unfortunately for us international travellers it's useless. Most (if not all) of Europe uses GSM not CDMA, so no kit I own will work, and if I get some kit on Sprint it won't work back home. As much as I would like it, I can't really afford two sm

  • I've had roaming randomly kick in while I was sitting in front of my PC at home. If I didn't set it so my web access would be shut off whenever this happened, it would have shown up on my bill.

    So if I own a phone company, can I just randomly flick switches that say people are roaming and then charge them an arm and a leg if they want to continue using the service they paid for? It used to be that you weren't roaming unless you actually left your service area; just like long distance calls over land lines.
    • by xnpu ( 963139 )

      Most phones allow you to turn roaming on and off, exactly for this reason. While roaming is more common when you leave a certain area it's certainly isn't (and never was) the only use case.

      In our area for example there is a small provider which support multiple networks using a single sim, as a way to reduce cost and optimize reception. These sims are essentially continuously roaming.

    • This is about roaming agreements between the carriers, not with their customers. The carriers charge an arm and leg for access to their network to outside carriers. Other carriers charge the same arm and leg amounts. If they're both big enough carriers, the charges equal out and your cell phone company can offer you "free" roaming. The little carriers have few towers to offer, so they simply have to pay obscene amounts to access the other cell networks. I believe that's where this FCC regulation is to

  • It's nice that the FCC finally had its balls drop and started taking some advances in a (what I consider to be) better direction.

    Now if we can only get Congress to stop screwing everything up by voting on issues they have no idea about that'd be amazing.

    That and a more radical president.

    • by srodden ( 949473 )

      I think all presidents would like to be more radical. The problem is the more change you promote, the more opposition you have. Obama is promoting great change in some areas e.g. state supported health care and all the anti-radicals have come out screaming in opposition.

      I'd love to get into politics and make some real change for the better. The problem is all the lunatics and vested interests that don't agree with my version of better. Inevitably what I managed to get put through would be a watered down and

  • At the end of the day this boils down to plain and simple theft. Verizon and AT&T (and their customers via bills) have put respectively very large capitol investments in their networks. Now they are being forced to allow other carriers who did not make these investments access to their private property. The cost of maintenance and other such elements will not be accurately passed on to these smaller carriers, and as a result Verizon and AT&T subscribers will pay more... If the government wants to
    • by Anonymous Coward

      (tongue in cheek).

      Of course its theft. The government stole our airwaves and gave them to AT&T and Verizon for a nominal fee.

      Now, they are meekly asking AT&T and Verizon to let competitors use them at a profit to AT&T and Verizon. It seems like a pretty reasonable idea to account for a natural monopoly situation*. Of course, with these things, the devil is always in the details.

      *There is a limited amount of frequency, so in the long run we're limited... whether we're anywhere near that or n

    • by bjk002 ( 757977 )

      Great idea!! Maybe the government can first get back the BILLIONS it gave Verizon and AT&T to lay all that infrastructure in the first place?!?

      Go back to the capitalism alter and pray for intervention from the Koch brothers.

    • by bussdriver ( 620565 ) on Friday April 08, 2011 @12:18PM (#35759092)

      How many people are going to feel bad for poor ATnT or Verizon? I don't know anybody who doesn't have some hate for ATnT.

      I still find it amazing how well the corporate propaganda has worked to brainwash so many people into screwing themselves; I'm sure I'll be surprised if we ever find out how many fake online identities marketing firms are using to spew more BS.

      To put this into proper perspective, traditional phone companies have had to share their networks for a long time without huge marketplace disasters, they simply get a small break using their own network and pay a small fee to use another's network. All the DSL and dial-up providers have been sharing networks in various ways thanks to the FCC requiring them to do so. Yes, the private monopolies would have banned dial-up internet providers if they could have. (AOL wouldn't have existed so 1 good thing would have come out of that.)

      It is OUR airwaves they buy monopolies on and our institutions manage them - if they do so poorly its because we the people are incompetent. We currently have a system which sells off bandwidth to the highest bidder and barely regulate the monopolistic usage; this is about as free-market as it can get without the costly chaos of letting anybody make radio noise. I suppose we should allow Verizon to install signal jamming devices or should we regulate that nobody can jam the competition? What constitutes jamming? Who decides? What if two providers bump heads over bandwidth-- the stronger signal and client hardware wins... a temporary battle...

      People seem to forget that something as basic as FIRE and POLICE have been privatized in the past and that insanity resulted-- in something that is morally simplistic and necessary; yet they somehow other areas are going to be more civil and more effective by introducing free market anarchy??

      Anarchy has a PR man and its the US Chamber of Commerce. "Free market" is just a PR creation.

Some people manage by the book, even though they don't know who wrote the book or even what book.