T-Mobile joins RCA, bolstering rural carrier group's ranks

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T-Mobile USA announced it will become the latest Tier 1 wireless carrier to join the Rural Cellular Association. The addition of T-Mobile to the RCA's ranks further positions the group as a counterweight to the CTIA and AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T) and Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ), the nation's two largest wireless operators.

The news comes ahead of the RCA's Competitive Carriers Global Expo, which starts March 28 in Orlando. The group said T-Mobile will participate and "discuss policy challenges ahead for the wireless industry."

For the RCA, the addition of T-Mobile is another feather in its cap, and the move comes less than a year after Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) joined the RCA as an affiliate member. Sprint joined RCA last April, shortly after announcing its opposition to AT&T's failed acquisition of T-Mobile. Sprint is the nation's third-largest wireless carrier and T-Mobile ranks No. 4 in terms of subscribers.

Click here for an update on the status of T-Mobile and Sprint's position within the RCA.

T-Mobile and Sprint have sided with each other on regulatory issues including spectrum stipulations, roaming and special access fees. Recently, Sprint, T-Mobile, the RCA and others urged that the FCC should halt its informal 180-day "shot clock" review of Verizon Wireless' $3.9 billion purchase of spectrum from cable companies until Verizon and the MSOs divulge more information about the deals. The FCC last week pressed Verizon and the cable companies for more details. 

For more:
- see this release

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Article updated March 19 to include new information on the status of T-Mobile's membership in RCA.