FCC to Look at in-market Roaming Issues

July 15 2008
RCR Wireless News

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Kevin Martin signaled the agency is prepared to fix a roaming snag faced by wireless providers delayed in constructing networks because spectrum licenses won at major auctions remain occupied by commercial and government users.

The FCC’s decision last year to require mobile-phone carriers to provide each other with reasonable and non-discriminatory automatic roaming for voice, text and push-to-talk services has created a quandary for many wireless providers who picked up licenses in the 700 MHz auction earlier this year and the advanced wireless services-1 (1700 MHz/2100 MHz) auction in 2006.

A big snafu has arisen over a provision making an exception to the rule if a wireless competitor seeks roaming access in a market in which it has purchased spectrum rights. The problem is that AWS-1 and 700 MHz winning bidders have not been able to readily buildout new markets because some commercial and government users have yet to relocate from auctioned spectrum to other frequencies.

Martin said the in-market exclusion was enacted for a good reason, but acknowledges it has had unintended consequences for some wireless providers.

“The idea from my standpoint on the in-market exclusion is that we want to be building out the spectrum and putting it to use,

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