Flat Wireless files formal complaint against Verizon over data roaming

Flat Wireless, a Texas-based carrier that operates as ClearTalk Wireless, filed a formal complaint against Verizon Wireless (NYSE: VZ), alleging that Verizon is violating the FCC's data roaming rules. In June, Flat Wireless lodged the specifics of its complaint against Verizon.

Last year, T-Mobile US (NYSE:TMUS) asked the FCC to provide guidance on what exactly constitutes a "commercially reasonable" data roaming agreement, an effort to get the agency to clarify its initial roaming order from 2011. AT&T (NYSE: T) and Verizon stood against T-Mobile on the issue, arguing the FCC should not get involved in the details of roaming agreements. Late last year, the FCC disagreed with Verizon and AT&T's arguments and decided to grant T-Mobile's petition. The FCC agreed it would provide guidance to carriers about how the FCC will evaluate potential complaints about data roaming agreements in the future.

Under the new guidelines, if there is a dispute over a data roaming agreement between two carriers, the unhappy party could bring a complaint to the FCC, which Flat has now done. The FCC could then take into consideration the additional factors related to roaming rates that T-Mobile had sought to determine if the deal is commercially reasonable. However, the FCC could decide not to consider those factors. Specifically, T-Mobile had proposed four "benchmarks" that it said the FCC should consider in assessing the commercial reasonableness of data roaming deals: retail rates, international roaming rates, MVNO/resale rates and roaming rates charged by other providers.

In its complaint, Flat argued that Verizon's data a roaming rates are "unjust and unreasonable in absolute terms and in relation to charges assessed by Verizon Wireless for similar services to its retail customers, MVNOs, and to international roaming partners," and also that they are "unreasonably discriminatory, and commercially unreasonable."

A Verizon spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Filing