networks is essential to achieve the goal of making broadband connectivity available everywhere in the
United States, and the availability of data roaming will help ensure the viability of new wireless data
network deployments and thus promote the development of competitive facilities-based service offerings
for the benefit of consumers. Today's actions will therefore advance our goal of ensuring that all
Americans have access to competitive broadband mobile data services.
2. We adopt the data roaming rule based on our authority under the Act, including several
provisions of Title Ill, which provides the Commission with authority to manage spectrum and establish
and modify license and spectrum usage conditions in the public interest. This rule will apply to all
facilities-based providers of commercial mobile data services regardless of whether these entities are also
providers of commercial mobile radio service (CMRS).' To resolve disputes arising pursuant to the rule
we adopt here, we provide that parties may file a petition for declaratory ruling under Section 1.2 of the
Commission's rules or file a formal or informal complaint under the rule established herein depending on
the circumstances specific to each dispute. Also, in order to facilitate the negotiation of data roaming
arrangements, we provide guidance on factors that the Commission could consider when evaluating any
data roaming disputes that might be brought before the agency.
3. Since the early days of commercial mobile services, the Commission has taken a number
of actions to promote the availability of roaming to American consumers as mobile services have evolved.
The Commission first adopted "manual" roaming requirements in 1981 as part of the original cellular
service rules, finding that such requirements would further the public interest in promoting the availability
of mobile communications service.2 In 1996, the Commission extended the original cellular "manual"
roaming rules to the newly established broadband Personal Communications Services (PCS), as well as
certain Specialized Mobile Radio (SMR) carriers, provided that the roamers' handsets are "technically
capable" of accessing the roamed-on ("host") network.
I For purposes of this proceeding, "commercial mobile data service" is defined as any mobile data service that is not
interconnected with the public switched network but is (1) provided for profit; and (2) available to the public or to
such classes ofeligible users as to be effectively available to the public. 47 C.F.R. 20.12. The current roaming
obligation in Section 20.12 applies to CMRS carriers' provision of mobile voice and data services that are
interconnected with the public switched network, as well as their provision of text messaging and push-to-talk
services. The data roaming rule adopted herein will cover mobile services that fall outside the scope of the current
automatic roaming obligation if provided for profit; and available to the public or to such classes of eligible users as
to be effectively available to the public.
2 See An Inquiry Into the Use of the Bands 825-845 MHz and 870-890 MHz for Cellular Communications Systems
and Amendment of Parts 2 and 22 of the Commission's Rules Relative to Cellular Communications Systems, CC
Docket No. 79-318, Report and Order, 86 FCC 2d 469 (1981) (Cellular Report & Order) (adopting requirement in
then Section 22.91 l(b) of the Commission's rules that base stations render service to properly licensed roamers).
Roaming services that subscribers receive are "manual" or "automatic." For manual roaming, the subscriber must
establish a relationship directly with the host provider on whose system the subscriber wants to roam in order to
make a call. Typically, the roaming subscriber accomplishes this in the course of attempting to originate a call by
giving the host provider a valid credit card number. With automatic roaming, the roaming subscriber is able to
immediately originate or terminate a call without first taking any actions to establish a relationship with the host
provider. Instead. automatic roaming occurs pursuant to a pre-existing contractual agreement between the
subscriber's own provider and the host provider.
S.See Interconnection and Resale Obligations Pertaining to Commercial Mobile Radio Service Providers, CC Docket
No. 94-54. Second Report and Order and Third Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 11 FCC Rcd 9462, 9470-71 13
(1996) (Interconnection and Resale Second Report and Order); 47 C.F.R. 20.12(c).
Federal Communications Commission
United States. Federal Communications Commission. FCC Record, Volume 26, No. 7, Pages 4843 to 5761, March 28-April 08, 2011. Washington D.C.. UNT Digital Library. http://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc52169/. Accessed January 25, 2015.