In a little-noticed Report and Order issued in June, the FCC addressed a number of issues regarding international telecommunications services which had been pending for some years. One of the more interesting items was the FCC’s determination that when customers of US-based CMRS carriers roam abroad, their calls back to the US over foreign carriers’ facilities are an international call subject to US law.
The status of roaming has been very cloudy at the FCC — some view it as merely a billing arrangement among carriers while others view it as a common carrier service subject to the full panoply of Title II regulation under the Communications Act. In the June Order, the FCC ruled that roaming is indeed a common carrier service, which means that a CMRS carrier must have a so-called Section 214 certificate in order to offer international roaming to its customers while abroad.
This may stimulate a run for such certificates since the need for them had not been clear prior to this Order. In addition, although the FCC did not address this issue, the logic of its reasoning would suggest that foreign CMRS carriers whose customers roam in the US must also have a Section 214 authorization from the FCC – something most foreign carriers have never bothered to acquire. More business for the International Bureau.