AT&T and the Rural Telecommunications Group are trading accusations against each other related to roaming charges.
Both organizations sent letters to the FCC last month outlining their positions.
RTG, which represents rural wireless carriers, shared both letters with Telecompetitor—and although both had substantial portions redacted for public inspection, the gist seems to be that:
- The RTG is arguing that AT&T has taken “anticompetitive actions” against RTG’s members that are “contrary to the public interest” by preventing its customers from roaming onto rural carrier networks, even when the customers thereby end up without service in those areas.
- AT&T argues that RTG’s claims are “baseless.” The carrier says it is just trying to save money and that it is not required to support “home-on-home roaming,” which refers to a situation in which Carrier A’s customers are able to roam on Carrier B’s network in an area where Carrier A (in this case, AT&T) has its own facilities.
Telecompetitor spoke with an RTG representative who said AT&T’s argument is based on the idea that because it is a national carrier, the entire U.S. represents a home market for the carrier when, in fact, there are many rural areas where AT&T does not have coverage.
RTG says some of its members would be willing to negotiate lower roaming fees, which typically are negotiated at the same rate for both carriers, but that AT&T has been unwilling to re-negotiate. According to RTG, AT&T is trying to reduce rural carrier revenues so that the carriers either will go out of business or will have less money available to put toward network upgrades.
AT&T did not respond to an inquiry from Telecompetitor about the dispute.