Federal Appeals Court Dismisses and Denies Roaming Petitions by Rural Carriers NTCH and Flat Wireless

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The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has issued an opinion denying a petition for review filed by Flat Wireless, LLC and also dismissing a petition for review filed by NTCH, Inc., both rural wireless carriers.  In 2017, the same court had delivered a unanimous 3-0 decision that dismissed NTCH’s petition for review of an FCC decision that found that Verizon Wireless did not violate the Commission’s voice and data roaming rules. In that earlier decision, the court ruled that it lacked jurisdiction to review the Commission’s decision in the roaming dispute between the nationwide carrier and rural carrier. In the present case, the court was asked to consider a challenge by Flat which argued not that the Commission’s voice and data roaming rules are invalid, but rather that the Commission improperly applied them to the Flat/Verizon roaming dispute.  The court in this most recent decision agreed with the FCC that Verizon indeed offered to Flat both just and reasonable voice roaming rates and commercially reasonable data roaming rates. Additionally, the court remarked that NTCH is not actually a party to Flat’s present complaint, and that because NTCH never bothered to file an administrative appeal of a decision by the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau to the full Commission, its petition for review in the present case cannot be considered. Accordingly, the Appeals Court has denied Flat’s petition for review of the FCC’s decision and has dismissed NTCH’s petition for review.

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