Rule 240 Should Apply to Cell Phone Companies

by Colin Berkshire

It’s no secret that Verizon’s network has gone down hill a lot in the past year. I don’t know if that is because they sold all of their towers (they did sell them) or if the timing is just a coincidence. But it is quite common that I can’t get enough bandwidth to watch short videos or YouTube at lunchtime anymore. (Like 0.3 megabits down and a pathetic 0.08 megabits up.)

I have actually found that sometimes I get faster service by turning LTE off. Yes, sometimes the Verizon 3G network is faster than their LTE network. These are sad times.

I have an answer!

All current-model iPhones are actually world phones. My iPhone 6 Plus can talk on any cell phone company in any country worldwide. It has all of the hardware and software to speak LTE, GSM, CDMA, TD-LTE, and all of the flavors.

Think about this: Your cell phone can talk to any tower. Every tower. Everywhere.

So I would like to propose a new and simple rule:

When you are in an area with no coverage by your current carrier, they would be required to roam you onto any other carrier that provided service. If your company chooses not to serve an area then they must accommodate you onto a competitor’s tower. And, they must pay that competitor for the use of their tower.

Likewise, if your cellular company cannot provide you with at least 2 megabits per second, then they must roam you onto another town that can.

It’s much like when an airline cancels a flight: they are legally required to accommodate you (at their expense) on any other carrier’s airplane. This is called “Rule 240” and it is worth knowing. All you have to do when your flight is cancelled or delayed is to go to the ticket gate and politely say “Rule 240” and give them the name and flight of another carrier that can fly you. They MUST buy you a ticket and fly you.

So the same deal should exist with cell companies. If they cannot accommodate you then they should “Rule 240” you to another carrier that can.

I have two rationales for this: First is that phones are essential for 911 and emergency services, and for keeping families safe and together. It is a public safety and public policy matter. Surely you shouldn’t be left stranded on the road with no cell service when you are in the shadows of another carrier’s cell tower.

The second reason is that the airwaves that the carrier has are a public resource. And, if the carrier doesn’t use them to accommodate the public then the carrier should be penalized. This is especially so if the carrier simply chooses to not cover an area while other carriers do.

So let’s demand the same treatment from cell phone companies that airlines are required to give. Let’s adopt Rule 240 for cell towers. If you don’t get 2 megabits on your carrier’s tower, then your phone should roam to their competitors so you can get the service that you are paying for.