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Verizon Sues FCC Over Data Roaming Rules

Wed, 05/18/2011 - 8:11am
Maisie Ramsay

Verizon Wireless is suing the FCC over new rules requiring wireless providers to offer reasonable rates on data roaming to their competitors.

Verizon filed an appeal over the mandate with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit last Friday, one week after the FCC published the data roaming order in the Federal Register on May 6.

The FCC's data roaming mandate, which passed by a 3-2 vote in April, requires wireless operators like AT&T and Verizon to offer data roaming on "commercially reasonable" terms to their competitors. AT&T and Verizon lobbied vigorously against the rules, which were widely supported by their smaller competitors.

In its appeal, Verizon argued the agency overstepped its authority in issuing the regulations.

Verizon used a similar argument when appealing the FCC's net neutrality regulations in the same Washington, D.C., court earlier this year. That complaint was dismissed on a technicality after the court ruled the suit had been filed prematurely because the FCC had not yet published the regulations in the Federal Register.

Verizon vowed to revive its net neutrality lawsuit once the rules were published; the FCC is expected to publish the rules in late May or early June.

Steve Berry, president and CEO of the Rural Cellular Association (RCA), issued a statement about Verizon's data roaming lawsuit. "The FCC was very diligent and meticulous in its order and properly identified authority under which the commission made their decision," he said, adding that the rules do not constitute an "inflexible mandate."

The RCA and Verizon are on opposite sides of many issues, including data roaming, handset exclusivity deals and interoperability in the 700 MHz band.

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