AT&T Takes The Gloves Off: Acuses Sprint Of Exploiting Roaming Laws – Sprint Fires Back


Grab the popcorn, folks. AT&T’s Bob Quinn must have had a bad taco for dinner because he’s spittin’ some fire in Sprint’s direction after accusing the #3 carrier of relying on roaming deals in Kansas and Oklahoma to cut costs. In an blog post Bob said,

“Sprint can now use other folks’ networks rather than pony up its own investment dollars. Instead of actually investing – and creating jobs – to build out its own network, Sprint wants its customers to roam on other carriers’ networks and investments.”

This comes after some material changes to Sprint’s network in those areas in which Sprint will be shutting down some of it’s own coverage in favor of roaming agreements with CDMA competitors like Verizon Wireless. The FCC recently changed a few policies like requiring carriers to offer high-speed data roaming (in addition to voice) and abolishing the old “Home Market Rule” which prevented carriers from creating roaming agreements with competitors in markets where they owned their own spectrum.

Sprint was quick to respond saying,

It’s disappointing, but not surprising, that AT&T wants to challenge a consumer’s right to access email, the Internet and other mobile broadband services wherever they may travel in the U.S. Along with Verizon Wireless, AT&T is the only other wireless carrier in America which opposes the FCC’s pro-consumer data roaming decision from last year.

The facts are that Sprint, as part of its Network Vision program, doubled its 2011 capital investment over 2010 to make tens of thousands of capacity upgrades, resulting in a better wireless experience for its customers. With these network investments, Sprint continues to offer consumers a better value than AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile.

We’ll let you know if AT&T takes another jab at Sprint in the meantime, what are your thoughts on this whole mess?

[AT&T | Via TheVerge]

Chris Chavez
I've been obsessed with consumer technology for about as long as I can remember, be it video games, photography, or mobile devices. If you can plug it in, I have to own it. Preparing for the day when Android finally becomes self-aware and I get to welcome our new robot overlords.

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  1. This is normal to me, Apple does the same thing.

    When a company is in trouble, do whatever you can to screw everyone else.

  2. I can understand AT&T’s frustration. As a VZW customer I do pay a higher rate than a Sprint customer but because of this I enjoy the best network in the country. I don’t think it’s fair that Sprint instead of boosting their coverage in those areas is actually choosing to shut down coverage. This means more Sprint customers eating bandwidth on the VZW network. 

  3. I am a diehard Verizon guy but I do see AT&T’s point here. I don’t think that’s really fair to the rest of the carriers. If I lived there, why not just switch to Sprint to save money while still getting Verizon service? I would think Verizon would be a little more ticked off about this than AT&T? I guess with all the fuss Sprint made for their failed T-Mobile merger, they are going to start attacking Sprint more.

    1. Verizon may love this deal because they aren’t going to allow Sprint customers to roam for free.  It may be “free” to the cell user, but Sprint will be paying Verizon for it.  Without knowing the specifics, it is even possible that Verizon makes more money off of a Sprint customer roaming onto their network than they do off of one of their own subscribers.

    2. I believe you don’t actually roam on Verizon’s 3G network but their slow as shit 1xRTT network used for voice calls.

  4. Not seeing the big deal here. Sprint isn’t getting anything for free. Customers still get 3g service. What am I missing?

  5. It’s kinda funny to me that AT&T is calling out someone else for not investing in their infrastructure/creating jobs.

    The same AT&T who didn’t give a crap about investing in its network when the iPhone surged in popularity, causing their network to take a plunge because of the traffic.

    The same AT&T who, for years afterwards, ignored the issues and falsely claimed that there wasn’t a problem and that their network wasn’t faltering, when even in huge metro areas like New York City you couldn’t complete a phone call.

    The same AT&T who tried to take the lazy way out and purchase T-Mobile instead of investing in and building up their own network, which would have no doubt destroyed thousands of American jobs in the process.

    Yeah, AT&T, we’re really buying it.

    1. Mike,

      You had me cracking up while reading this — yes, the whole thing.  The funniest part about the whole AT&T circus is that it’s all true.  Classic!

    2. How about the network investments since then? Or how about the improvements made to their 3G/HSPA+ since the days of the iPhone 3G? Back then the best speed I saw was ~1mbps now I’m averaging about 4mbps and that with more subscribers on their network than ever before.

      I’m all for trashing them when their network truly was shitty but give credit where it’s due for the improvements since then.

      1. Network improved, yes. Mistakes made along the way, yes. Being able to forgive them for constantly trying to screw customers, no.

        P.S= Why the hell are all AT&T phones making a screeching noise when they call me? or when I call them!? It seems to be mostly the iPhones on AT&T, and it started right when the merger fell through!

        It is not just my phone either…. Trust me!

        1. Ok cool. Let’s acknowledge Verizon doing this too by requiring users to OPT-OUT of the data inspecting services used for advertising, or their high prices for smaller data allotments, or their attempted $2 fee for paying by credit/debit.

          Or Tmobile who locks you into a new contract just because you’re creating a family plan, no matter where you are in your contract.

          Sprint isn’t any better, charging a premium data fee on all smartphones on their network. Let’s keep things in perspective.

  6. Sprint is a bullshit operation, that offers shit service, slow network speeds, and lousy customer service, I should know because I left there to go BACK to a real network ATT ..
    I was always hit with the roaming warning…sprint can’t afford to improve their shabby
    Network because they took it in the ass from apple in order to get the OVERRATED iPhone …

  7. Please note that sprints unlimited data does not apply when roaming. So by signing these deals they can advertise unlimited and only provide roaming.added charges instead of throttling

    1. Roaming charges?  Ive roamed before and used roaming data and not once had a charge.  There was a thing where if you used over 300mb of roaming data month to month they would terminate your contract but no fees.

  8. Att sucks either way you look at it they just wanna be little babiez bout the situation that’s all I’m on verizon have the experia play had att and wont ever do that dance again back when the blackjack 2 was the shit.

  9. My thought is that Sprint LTE is going to have horrible building penetration for at least two years due to the high spectrum while AT&T has great building penetration now.

    I never get Wimax indoors, and even though 3G data speed has improved to something reasonable, I’m not happy with it.

    AT&T also has M2aM with unlimited text, and with the 3GB plan, it comes out to $90 per month which is only $10 more than Sprint’s M2aM unlimited data plan for LTE service that actually works indoors.
    I can’t wait for the Asus Padfone next month. I’ll give Sprint their ETF and be on my way.

    1. Sprint’s LTE is going to be 700 MHz.  I think you are thinking of LightSquared’s 1400 MHz issues.

    2. Sprint’s initial LTE rollout will be 1900 Mhz, better building penetration than WiMAX at 2.5Ghz.  If you get a Sprint voice signal indoors today, you’ll get LTE too.   Sprint will expand LTE (and CMDA voice) to 800Mhz in a couple years.

  10. Sprint provides the best value bar none. Sprint and Verizon share CDMA towers so don’t believe the myths. crunch the numbers and do the math. and bank and invest the savings every month rather than send it to AT&T or Verizon every month. that’s how the rich get richer.

    1. ” Sprint and Verizon share CDMA towers so don’t believe the myths”
      It’s non-reciprocal. Verizon does not roam Sprint, Sprint only roams VZ in certain areas for 2G/1x voice and data only. NO 3G. Good luck with that and all its 144k glory.

      1. i love Sprint and have traveled all over the country.  i never had a reception problem where a Verizon customer did not also have a problem.  if Sprint gave me poor service i would dump them in a heartbeat but the overall value proposition and service is just too strong.  i like banking and investing the savings every month but you can continue to cling to whatever myths that make you feel better for spending more money every month.  i refuse to be nickeled and dimed and raped every month. look at the plans and crunch the numbers. the rich get richer mofo!!!

        1. Looks like you have an axe to grind. I stated facts not myths.
          You’re not getting free 3G on Verizon by using Sprint, so if you feel like you’re sticking it to the man you’re mistaken. If you’re happy having dialup speeds when roaming to save a few bucks, good for you. Sprint will also dump you if you continue to roam more than being home. Real nice.
          I enjoy my unlimited 20mb LTE connection that I pay 10 bucks for right now. I have no complaints and I’m personally not being nickeled and dimed at all.

          1. lottsa luck!

      2. Sprint does roam on VZW 3G in old Alltel areas, which is quite a bit in the South.

        1. That may be, but only because they took over the contracts between Sprint and Alltel and Verizon is honoring the previous agreement. When they expire that will go away so enjoy while you can. The Verizon Sprint roaming agreement is as I stated above. Sprint does have 3G roaming agreements with Metro and others, but not Verizon directly.

    2. i wish i could get 144k. im on “3g” in my area but b.c of network traffic i average about 70k :-(

  11. I think ATT is just upset because Sprint has the deal with Verizon and not with them. That bandwidth does not come free.  Sprint is investing in its network (upgrading to LTE).  They have to to compete with the big two.  Honestly, it sounds like a smart business decision.  They still get to keep their customers, but get to use anther company’s bandwidth.  Then divert the savings to upgrading their network.  Are ATT also upset they didn’t think of it first?  Hehe
    I hope people don’t think that Verizon would lower their data costs if Sprint was using their network.  We all know that’s not true.

    1. Sprint couldn’t form this deal with at&t if they wanted to. The two companies use different radio technologies that are not compatible with existing handsets.

  12. This was a weird attack by AT&T… as a result of the failed T-Mobile merger supposedly AT&T was going to setup roaming agreements with T-Mobile.  I don’t understand why AT&T would attack sprint with something they probably will be (and should be) setting up here shortly.

    Unfortunately the downside of using GSM in the US is that your choice of partners for roaming agreements is pretty limited.

    Verizon, Sprint, US Cellular, Cricket, use extensive roaming agreements with other CDMA providers to enhance their own coverage and add income by farming out their network investment to other carriers.

    1. att is too stupid to roam easily with t-mo.

  13. I’m on Verizon and I know they got thrown in by Sprint but at&t is very worried about something for spitting some rage out like that, plus very very unprofessional of att.

  14. Fucking freak get the Fuck OUTTA HERE.

  15. but, are you getting any money?

  16. Sprint and vzn have the worst coverage in Oklahoma and slowest data in Oklahoma. Not sure if this will benefit either company here.

  17. just to cleat this up you will be chahrged for data roaming if over 300mb of data is used in a month. furthermore, if for 3 consectuative months >40% of your min. are roaming min sprint can/will tell you to take a hike and find antother carrier and can/but probs wont still charge you your etf. 

    …i cant spell btw…

  18. Yeah I left Sprint because for a year my Data speeds were SLOW. Im talking 300kbps slow. Went to a real carrier, big red, where I pulled 26.8 mbps yesterday. :)

  19. I’m pretty sure that if you get kicked for excessive off-network usage they’ll waive the ETF. I would look into this though.

  20. AT&T is ill-informed about Sprint’s business decision in Oklahoma and Kansas. These customers have long been served by a roaming partner. The change we announced simply disclosed that to our customers. Sprint hasn’t moved anyone off of its network.

    All wireless carriers, including AT&T, benefit from the FCC’s roaming rules. Through roaming agreements, carriers can offer consumers a bigger network footprint. For years, the FCC has required carriers to negotiate “just and reasonable” rates for voice roaming agreements — this decision announced last year simple extends the requirement for data roaming agreements.

    That means that you can check your email, surf the Net or use other mobile broadband services anywhere you travel in the U.S. at affordable rates. The entire wireless industry with the exception of AT&T and Verizon support this move by the FCC. 

    We do so because it’s the right thing to do for consumers and competition. It’s also sound public policy.

    John Taylor
    Public Affairs

    1. I can understand Why ATT and Verizon wouldn’t like the idea. Think about it. They continue to put $$ into building their network so some other carrier can decide not to put money into their own network and instead roam onto ATT and Verizon larger network.

      For customers on the other carriers this is great. For those on ATT and Verizon however youve got customers not even on the carrier bogging down the network your actually paying to use…

  21. Sprint>at&shit ..consensus? We are done here.

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