Verizon ordered to comply with FCC data roaming rules

A federal appeals court has rejected Verizon’s attempt to avoid complying with FCC rules on data roaming.

The three judges unanimously agreed that the FCC was acting reasonably in extending existing voice roaming requirements to cover wireless data.

Verizon had argued that the move represented ‘unwarranted government intervention’ and was made without proper authority. It unlawfully treated mobile internet providers as common carriers, the company claimed.

But in their ruling, the judges said that Title III of the Communications Act of 1934 clearly gave the FCC the necessary authority.

“And although the rule bears some marks of common carriage, we defer to the Commission’s determination that the rule imposes no common carrier obligations on mobile-internet providers,” wrote Judge David Tatel in the ruling.

“In response to Verizon’s remaining arguments, we conclude that the rule does not effect an unconstitutional taking and is neither arbitrary nor capricious.”

He pointed out that if Verizon didn’t want to offer a service on the FCC’s terms, it dodn’t have to offer one at all.

The ruling has, naturally, been welcomed by the FCC.

“This unanimous decision confirms the FCC’s authority to promote broadband competition and protect broadband consumers,” says chairman Julius Genachowski.

“Our rules have empowered consumers and expanded their ability to enjoy the benefits of seamless and nationwide access to mobile data services, including wireless internet and email. Enacting data roaming rules is one of many strong actions the FCC has taken in this area, and we will continue to promote broadband investment and innovation.”

It’s also pleased the Competitive Carrier Association, with president and CEO Steven Berry describing the decision as ‘prompt and well-reasoned’.

“This is a decisive victory for consumers and an extremely positive outcome for competitive carriers and competitive policies,” he says.