The Alliance for Fair Roaming Access: Little Fish, Big ol' Wireless Pond

Several small to midsize companies and trade organizations are pushing for fair and reasonable wireless roaming practices. But can they make their voices heard?

July 19, 2007

2 Min Read
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A group of trade organizations and companies, including Cricket Communications, LCW Wireless, the Rural Telecommunications Group and others have banded together in an effort to tackle the issue of anticompetitive and discriminatory roaming practices within the wireless service industry.

"It doesn't take a rocket scientist (or a wireless industry veteran for that matter) to realize that the members of this coalition -- the Alliance for Fair Roaming Access -- are relative unknowns, medium to small carriers who unfortunately are holding the short end of the stick. As the press release points out, this industry has been experiencing ongoing consolidation and those who don't hold valuable roaming property aren't in a good position to negotiate roaming rates. Many time those roaming rates are reciprocal " if it costs 50 cpm for the small carrier to roam onto the larger carrier's network, the small carrier shouldn't expect to get more than that half dollar, or anything at all if they're not the preferred roamer in that area. Many of the small carriers also offer local or region plans that address most of their subscribers needs, and those who need to travel outside their regular servicing can normally afford the higher rates associated with those plans. And roaming rates are not all bad. There is also good money to be made in roaming, and if a rural carrier has a tower in the right spot, they can easily earn hundreds, if not low thousands of dollars per month in roaming revenue. If roaming rates dropped to pennies per minute those revenues sources would dry, up, too.

The reality is that this is an unregulated market with strong free market forces at play. The small carriers can call for regulatory intervention, but the CTIA can likely make this go away " it wouldn't be the first time. Rather go to Washington, it may be time to head to Wall Street and see if there's a suitable buyer. If you can't beat 'em, join them!"


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