Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Rural wireless users to get break on roaming fees, but not as much as rural telecom companies want

The Federal Communications Commission is about to enact new regulations allowing customers of rural wireless companies "to roam in more cities and at lower rates," reports Paul Davidson of USA Today.

"Rural carriers complain that the large national carriers often charge them exorbitant roaming fees and sometimes refuse to let them roam on their networks," Davidson reports. "The strategy has squeezed many rural providers out of the market, says the Rural Telecommunications Group," a lobby for small carriers.

While the new FCC rule would require carriers to offer roaming agreements at "just and reasonable rates," it would not grant rural companies' request for a firm limit on roaming fees. "Perhaps more significant: It does not cover roaming for broadband services, a fast-growing market," Davidson writes. And if you think those cell towers along rural interstates are good news for customers of rural cell companies, not necessarily. By erecting those towers, the big firms are "reducing their reliance on small companies for coverage." (Read more)

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