Feeds

FCC considers mandatory data roaming across the USA

Operators continue to filibuster implementations

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is voting today on extending its mandatory intracountry roaming to data services, but when operators can just extend negotiations forever it hardly seems worth it.

Intracountry roaming – allowing a phone to connect to another network when out of the home network's coverage – has always been part of the US cellular experience. The US regulator has mandated that companies negotiate towards such agreements, for voice, since 2007, and while originally billed at high rates, roaming is now included in most tariffs. But despite that, many smaller operators still can't get coverage across the country, something the new rules on data seem unlikely to change.

CNET pulls up the town of Lewis, in Delaware, as an example. Lewis has perfectly good coverage with AT&T and Verizon, but not Sprint. The FCC rules mean the companies are obliged to negotiate on voice roaming, at "fair and reasonable rates", but not that they must ever actually reach an agreement, and so the citizens of Lewis are stuck with two operators.

In Europe we don't really have intracountry roaming – much to the annoyance of some of the emergency services. Mountain rescue teams often complain they have to use foreign SIM cards (which will roam to any UK network) to ensure coverage wherever they end up, but that means paying international roaming rates too.

The UK government has made noises about mandatory roaming, but introducing such a thing risks removing the competitive pressure to build networks. The UK's most-outlying islands are well-provided with cellular cover thanks to the competition to provide national coverage, but if all networks had the same coverage map, there would be no incentive to push into the far corners where there aren't enough people to make providing service profitable.

In another decade or so, the UK could be down to a pair of national networks, Three and Everything Everywhere are already sharing 3G infrastructure, and Vodafone and O2 are moving closer. Operators sharing their infrastructure with the competition won't be able to use coverage as a differentiator, and so have no incentive to extend it.

At that point some sort of universal service obligation might have to be considered, if we think that rural coverage is worth paying for, but we'll certainly have to make rules that demand more than companies sit around a table together every now and then, which is all that the FCC is asking of them. ®

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
Brit telcos warn Scots that voting Yes could lead to HEFTY bills
BT and Co: Independence vote likely to mean 'increased costs'
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
New 'Cosmos' browser surfs the net by TXT alone
No data plan? No WiFi? No worries ... except sluggish download speed
Radio hams can encrypt, in emergencies, says Ofcom
Consultation promises new spectrum and hints at relaxed licence conditions
Blockbuster book lays out the first 20 years of the Smartphone Wars
Symbian's David Wood bares all. Not for the faint hearted
'Serious flaws in the Vertigan report' says broadband boffin
Report 'fails reality test' , is 'simply wrong' and offers ''convenient' justification for FTTN says Rod Tucker
This flashlight app requires: Your contacts list, identity, access to your camera...
Who us, dodgy? Vast majority of mobile apps fail privacy test
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.