Mosaic: AT&T won't let us roam onto 3G network

The data roaming debate before the FCC continues to spark acrimonious arguments among the nation's wireless carriers, this time with AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T) and Wisconsin carrier Mosaic Telecom trading barbs over their data roaming negotiations.

In a Jan. 14 filing with the FCC, Mosaic wrote that it attempted to add a 3G data component to its existing 2G voice and data roaming agreement with AT&T, but that AT&T said it wasn't interested in such a deal. However, Mosaic said AT&T changed its tune in November, after the issue garnered the attention of FCC officials.

"AT&T did in fact reach out to Mosaic on November 15, 2010 to negotiate a 3G data roaming agreement. Mosaic responded with proposed roaming rates on the very same day. However, after a short series of e-mail exchanges, AT&T has stopped communicating with Mosaic."

Added Mosaic: "AT&T's brief epoch of ‘outreach' to the GSM mobile carrier community ... was posturing, plain and simple."

AT&T took issue with Mosaic's claims. In a Jan. 18 filing with the FCC, AT&T blasted Mosaic, arguing the carrier distorted the exchange. "Mosaic omits to note that its proposal was to immediately reduce the contract rates for all roaming traffic--2G and 3G--by more than 70 percent from the levels to which AT&T and Mosaic had agreed in their existing contract," AT&T wrote. "Moreover, AT&T has not ‘stopped communicating' with Mosaic--AT&T is in the process of responding to Mosaic's rate proposal."

AT&T also said Mosaic's 3G devices operate in AWS, 1900 MHz and 850 MHz bands, meaning that the carrier can rely on other operators, including T-Mobile USA, for roaming services.

Mosaic, part of Chibardun Telephone Cooperative, offers wireless service in Wisconsin. The company this month signed a deal with Nokia Siemens Networks to upgrade its network to LTE technology.

The FCC is currently considering whether to apply automatic roaming rules to mobile data. Larger wireless carriers have argued that the FCC should not mandate data roaming agreements, while smaller carriers have argued the opposite.

Indeed, AT&T's dispute with Mosaic isn't the first dust-up in filings on the issue. For example, the Rural Cellular Association and the Rural Telecommunications Group in a joint FCC filing wrote that, "AT&T told RCA it will not negotiate any 3G data roaming agreements unless it helps to fill-in its nationwide coverage map." AT&T also has spared with T-Mobile over 3G data roaming.

For more:
- see this AT&T filing with the FCC

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