The CCA Voice - Spring/Summer 2014 - (Page 27)

THEME: ON THE EDGE: MEETING CONSUMER DEMAND Beat 'Em or Join 'Em: Data Roaming in a 4G LTE World By: Andrew Morentz Member, Telecommunications Law Professionals PLLC A s CCA members are well aware, a critical aspect of reaching consumer demand is providing customers with seamless, nationwide access to 4G LTE data roaming. Today's mobile consumers expect their data capability to travel with them, and the carrier who fails to offer this capability to customers is failing to meet consumer demand. Unfortunately for many competitive carriers, access to nationwide data roaming, particularly for 4G LTE, at reasonable rates and on reasonable terms and conditions, remains largely out of reach. While the FCC deserves credit for its adoption of the 2011 Data Roaming Order, the pro-competitive impact has been underwhelming, because data roaming agreements at reasonable rates with the Twin Bells (AT&T and Verizon) continue to elude smaller carriers. Meanwhile, continued industry consolidation has eliminated many roaming partners and increased the Twin Bells' leverage over smaller carriers in data roaming negotiations. Paradoxically, it seems that the only way smaller carriers can obtain nationwide data roaming access from the Twin Bells is to be acquired by one of them. Thus, competitive carriers are faced with two conflicting choices on how to obtain nationwide 4G LTE roaming from the Twin Bells: beat 'em at the FCC, or join 'em by being acquired. If you are not inclined to join them, by taking steps to force the Twin Bells to honor the requirements of the Data Roaming Order, you may be able to obtain the 4G LTE roaming services that your customers demand. Although the prospect of filing a data roaming complaint against a much larger carrier may seem like a daunting task, there are several steps that carriers can take to lay the groundwork for a persuasive complaint. First, document everything. From your first business-to-business email requesting roaming negotiations, through the various rates or offers received (or not received), keep track of timelines and correspondence. Equally important is keeping contemporaneous notes of any telephone or in-person discussions. Documentation is critical to building the foundation upon which a successful roaming complaint will be built. Second, review your current roaming agreements in light of your ongoing negotiations with the target carrier. As a wireless operator, you have a front-row seat to what constitutes a commercially reasonable roaming agreement. Because 4G LTE data is more efficient than previous generations, the per-megabyte rate should be even lower than for 2G or 3G roaming services, meaning that even agreements for older wireless standards may be useful in complaint proceedings. Third, be diligent in your pursuit of the roaming agreement with your target carrier. In order to demonstrate unreasonable negotiating behavior or stonewalling, you must be prepared to respond to offers promptly and continually follow up on your requests for negotiation. This will further build a record and demonstrate your efforts to the FCC staff. THE Fourth, prepare your legal strategy at the outset. The things that you say and do during initial negotiations or FCC mediation may have a profound impact on the later stages of the complaint proceeding. Accordingly, it is critical to consult with legal counsel at the earliest stages in order to formulate a consistent legal strategy that provides a likely path to victory. The Twin Bells have considerable resources to fend off roaming complaints. Challengers need to show purpose and diligence to succeed. By starting early with a targeted strategy in the negotiation phase, and by hewing to this legal strategy during the complaint phase, competitive carriers will enjoy the best prospects for success. In addition to the beat 'em or join 'em dichotomy, there is also a third way to achieve 4G LTE roaming success - helping to expand the reach of the CCA 4G LTE roaming hub. With over 100 carrier members, CCA's aggregated member network coverage blankets nearly the entire country. As more CCA members transition their networks to support 4G LTE, the participation of all CCA members in the roaming hub could transform it into a powerful tool for accessing nationwide 4G LTE services. CCA's carrier members all possess a uniquely competitive spirit and a naturally stiff spine. With consumers demanding nationwide 4G LTE roaming, and the Twin Bells unwilling to reasonably negotiate, the question is now put before all competitive carriers: beat 'em or join 'em? Telecommunications Law Professionals PLLC is a boutique law firm whose members all specialize in communications law. TLP helps a diverse cross-section of industry participants meet challenges in the rapidly changing, wireless, wired, high tech and media industries by providing expert, timely and cost-effective advice. VOICE * www.competitivecarriers.org * Spring/Summer 2014 27 http://www.competitivecarriers.org

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The CCA Voice - Spring/Summer 2014

Chairman’s Letter by Jonathan Foxman
A Message from the President and CEO by Steven K. Berry
CCA’s 2013 Annual Achievement Award Winners
Staying Ahead of “The Next Big Thing”
Near Tragedy in Nevada Demonstrates Need for Rural Investment
Competition – The Foundation for a Healthy Industry
Putting the “Incentive” in Incentive Auction
Beat ’Em or Join ’Em: Data Roaming in a 4G LTE World
2014: The Year of Small Cell Deployment
Band Class 12 – Beyond Broadband
Chat Mobility Utilizes Multi-Faceted Plan to Attract & Retain Customers
Blurred Lines: Reinventing in the Rural Market
Regional Carrier Bridges Digital Divide with Massive Network Upgrade
Wireless Challenges and Solutions for Competitive Carriers
Expanding America’s Wireless Networks: It Takes a Village
Lead with Location
Giving Your Customer Their Preferred Choices in Billing: Paper, Electronic, and Mobile
Monetizing Data Demand with Personalized Services
Making Sure Long-Distance Calls Reach Rural Subscribers
Mobility Growth with Emerging Devices
Mobile Broadband and the Rise of Mobile Security Challenges
On the Verge: Fulfilling 4G-LTE Consumer Demand in America
Transform Your Business by Making It Simpler
Lessons Learned on the Road to LTE
Let’s Get Personal
Even If the Voice Packets Make It, Does the Lack of Quality Ruin It?
Our Connected World: The Necessity of NFV for Telcos
Ten Hot Consumer Trends in 2014 and Beyond
Gain Your Edge: Effective Edge Out Strategies with 4G LTE
Reaching Consumer Demand Through Marketing in the Rural Driven Markets
Tips for Improving the Customer Experience
Creating a Super High-Capacity Network in Rural America
Your Competitors Are Coming for Your Customers
Index of Advertisers
Congressional Spotlight: Representative Robert “Bob” Latta

The CCA Voice - Spring/Summer 2014

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