Small carriers push FCC to mandate interoperability


The lack of interoperability makes it difficult for smaller companies to buy access to AT&T's network when their customers' travel outside the range of their own towers.

The FCC already requires that companies offer fair roaming agreements, but there is no mandate that networks have to be interoperable.

“In this age of technological innovation, American consumers are increasingly tied to their mobile devices and count on their ability to access a working network,“ said Grant Spellmeyer, executive director of federal affairs for US Cellular, a member of the new alliance. “As it stands, a decision by a single carrier to deploy on a separate, unnecessary band class, has not only erected barriers to seamless connectivity but has fractured the device ecosystem resulting in significantly slower deployment, hindering innovation, jobs and consumer benefits that otherwise would exist by unified and interoperable wireless networks. The FCC must act to restore interoperability this year.” 

The group also argued that setting interoperability requirements will help first responders use the commercial networks during emergencies. 

But an AT&T spokesman warned that government mandates will "do nothing but slow down the deployment of next-generation mobile broadband, causing slower data speeds, poor reception and dropped calls for consumers."  

"The commission should reject these calls for unnecessary government intrusion in the competitive wireless industry,” the AT&T spokesman said.