Federal appeals court upholds mobile-data roaming rule

[JURIST] The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit [official website] on Tuesday upheld [opinion, PDF] a federal rule requiring mobile-data providers to offer roaming agreements to other providers on "commercially reasonable" terms. In April 2011 the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) [official website] adopted the data roaming rule [order], which allows users to connect to another provider's mobile-data services when they travel outside their own network's coverage area. The purpose of the data roaming rule is to foster competition among providers and "promote consumer access to seamless mobile data coverage nationwide." Verizon [corporate website] opposed the data roaming rule, arguing that the FCC did not have authority to promulgate a rule for mobile-data providers and that mobile internet service providers could not be considered common carriers. Verizon also suggested that mobile-data providers were already entering into roaming agreements and that a federal regulation was unnecessary. The court concluded that Title III of the Communications Act [text, PDF] provides statutory authority for the FCC to promulgate rules regulating mobile-data providers.

Verizon and other internet and mobile phone service providers have lodged several complaints against federal regulations in recent years. In January 2011 Verizon filed an appeal [JURIST report] in the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit challenging new net neutrality [JURIST news archive] rules adopted by the FCC that will allow the government to regulate Internet traffic. Verizon filed its appeal in January 2011 arguing that the net neutrality rules gave the FCC more authority than Congress intended to give it [JURIST report]. The FCC approved the net neutrality rules [JURIST report] in October 2009.

 

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