T-Mobile believes large carriers can charge too much for data roaming, AT&T disagreesEvan Selleck - Contributing Editor
T-Mobile wants data roaming rules to be altered, and has petitioned the FCC to make those changes happen.
The Magenta Network doesn't want to see such leniency when it comes to data roaming rules, as they believe that larger carriers are reaping the benefits, and smaller carriers are forced to suffer the rest. Recently, T-Mobile petitioned the FCC to rewrite the rules, in an effort to specifically make sure that the agreements between large and small networks for data roaming are fair. As T-Mobile puts it:
"The Commission adopted the data roaming rule because it found that providers require access to data roaming in order to be able to compete, and that an extensive record showed that many were having difficulty obtaining such access on reasonable terms. Despite adoption of the rule, however, real-world industry experience shows that providers continue to be stymied in their efforts to negotiate data roaming agreements on commercially reasonable terms.
These problems are due in large part to certain ambiguities in the “commercially reasonable” standard for data roaming – ambiguities that could not have been foreseen at the time, but which have become apparent with experience. The data roaming marketplace, and the consumers who rely on it for ubiquitous, affordable wireless service, would benefit substantially if the Commission provided greater clarity on the meaning of its “commercially reasonable” standard in the context of data roaming."
Essentially, T-Mobile wants more strict rules set in place. In the present state, T-Mobile believes that because there isn't a framework in place, large carriers can potentially be charging too much to smaller carirers. That stems from the term "commercially reasonable," and its apparent vagueness, because any carrier can argue that any transaction is "commercially reasonable."
It should not come as any surprise that AT&T is working against this petition. As AT&T puts it:
"There is no justification for granting T-Mobile’s petition – in fact, according to T-Mobile’s own economist, wholesale roaming rates have trended “downward strongly” in recent years, and the average wholesale roaming rates paid by T-Mobile have fallen nearly 70 percent since 2011 and continue to decline."
Both sides will obviously continue to press their arguments, so it will be interesting to see what happens with this in the coming months. There's no guarantee that the FCC will move in favor of T-Mobile, but the same can be said for AT&T.