Court: Verizon Must Offer ‘Reasonable’ Roaming Rates Or Ditch Mobile Internet Entirely

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Regional cell phone carriers and the Federal Communications Commission broke out the champagne yesterday as a U.S. appeals court unanimously declared that Verizon must offer “reasonable” rates to customers when they make calls outside of the network. “This unanimous decision confirms the FCC’s authority to promote broadband competition and protect broadband consumers,” exclaimed FCC Chairman, Julius Genachowski.

Smaller regional carriers, such as Metro PCS, had asked the commission to force Verizon to negotiate on how to charge users for using local networks when they travel outside of Verizon’s expansive coverage area. The Court declared that Verizon would have to either accept the FCC’s authority or (what must have been a cheeky alternative) to “not to provide mobile-Internet service.”

Verizon hasn’t yet issued a statement on the ruling, but it’s safe to bet that they won’t be ditching a major chunk of their business.

Expect the court’s decision to inflame Republicans who think the FCC has been too regulation-happy and cause greater tension over issues like Net Neutrality in the coming year