Cable Cos Demonstrate Importance of Roaming for All Data Services
5.21.12 – Today’s announcement that five large cable companies will join forces to give their customers access to each other’s WiFi networks yet again brings to light the data roaming challenges that competitive carriers face each and every day. Roaming, regardless of the technology type, allows consumers to access connectivity where they want it. Many smaller competitive carriers have been unable to access commercially feasible roaming arrangements with Verizon Wireless and AT&T. As these cable companies –in the midst of pending spectrum transactions with Verizon – begin to offer their customers a mobile service, obligations to offer such data roaming on commercially reasonable terms and conditions must apply to them too.
Anyone that says the SpectrumCo cable companies are not entering wireless mobility is oblivious to the facts. Comcast’s own COO Dave Watson stated, “Mobility is an increasingly important part of Comcast’s product road map.” WiFi networks are and should be subject to the FCC data roaming order, and competitive carriers should be able to access WiFi capabilities at fair, reasonable and economically sustainable costs.
It is critically important to prevent Time Warner, Bright House Networks, Cox, Cablevision and Comcast from imposing exclusive Verizon-access or anti-competitive policies to access their WiFi networks. These cable companies know that mobile is the future, and as they begin to offer mobile services and seek to establish roaming relations for their customers, they must offer roaming and offload services on commercially reasonable rates, terms and conditions to competitive carriers.
The FCC has the obligation to ensure a competitive marketplace.