A wireless industry group has rebranded itself to more accurately reflect its membership in its fight against the dominant two cellular service providers.
The Rural Cellular Association (RCA) is now called the Competitive Carriers Association (CCA) and is made up of more than 100 wireless carriers serving about 30 percent of the cellular market. The other 70 percent is made up of just two companies.
"We represent literally everyone except for AT&T and Verizon Wireless," said CCA President and CEO Steven Berry in an interview with WirelessWeek. The group is headquartered in Washington, D.C., and lobbies the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), White House, and Congress on issues like wireless spectrum policy, handset exclusivity deals, automatic data roaming, and interoperability.
The CCA prohibits carriers with more than 80 million subscribers from joining its ranks; only AT&T and Verizon exceed that number. According to CNET, Verizon tops the list with 111.3 million subscribers, followed closely by AT&T with 105.2 million subscribers. Their closest competitor, Sprint Nextel, claims 56 million customers, and the number four carrier, T-Mobile USA, has 33.2 million.
The RCA was originally formed by nine rural and regional carriers in 1992, before any single carrier could claim national coverage without roaming agreements with other providers. Sprint joined the CCA during AT&T’s attempt to buy T-Mobile earlier this year, and T-Mobile joined after that attempt was blocked by the government.
Berry told CNET that the CCA now aims to represent members with national coverage as well as small rural carriers, noting that they all need more of a voice faced with the “duopoly” of AT&T and Verizon.
"What do you do when the two largest carriers don't need strategic partnerships? They can control the roaming relationships and define the specifications for devices,” he said.
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