Lawmakers are closely looking at the practices of some of the largest wireless providers in America. Many small providers around the country have complained to lawmakers that they can’t compete because of the policies and practices that larger mobile service providers employ.
Earlier this week, Verizon sent a letter to lawmakers offering to limit the length of time it keeps handsets exclusively. Verizon offered to make exclusives last no longer than six months for providers with under a specific number of subscribers. The move is a preemptive strike by Verizon to try to win lawmakers over before legislation is introduced to change the way the wireless providers operate.
For the second time in a week, Verizon has sent a letter to lawmakers. This time Verizon is voluntarily offering to support a roaming rule change that would offer a solution to claims that the policies Verizon has on roaming puts small providers at a disadvantage.
Roaming agreements allow mobile phone users to access a network when they are outside an area where the provider has infrastructure built. Today wireless providers are not required to offer roaming services to rivals.
Reuters was able to get a copy of the letter Verizon sent and reports that the wireless provider will support a new law requiring it to provide rivals with roaming services in areas where it is not currently obligated to do so. The letter also suggests a limit on wireless roaming services of two years except in special circumstances where the provider would be able to get an additional year of service.
The letter and the concern over roaming services stems in part from complaints by small wireless rivals like Leap Wireless who have complained about rules governing roaming.
Leap's Laurie Itkin told Reuters, "Verizon itself has relied on roaming agreements for over two decades as it built out its network and acquired competitors, but now has unilaterally decided that its remaining competitors are only entitled to roaming for two or three years."