We saw this day coming. With Verizon Wireless and AT&T sitting on all the marbles, they have no reason to let any of the other carriers play the game. While voice and text roaming agreements between smaller carriers and the Big 2 continue, such is not the case with data roaming. Recently T-Mobile has taken their case to the FCC that AT&T will not allow T-Mobile users to roam on AT&T's (upcoming) 3G network. AT&T says they are still "in negotiation," but T-Mobile says they're talking to the hand, and the hand ain't listening.
While the major carriers are required by law to provide roaming voice and text services, there is no such requirement for data. This leaves some big holes for smaller carriers like T-Mobile. We reported earlier this week on our Facebook Page that a very small GSM carrier in Bozeman, Montana, Big Sky Mobile, also could not come to a mutually-beneficial roaming agreement with either AT&T or it's Alltel predecessor. That means Big Sky can't have coverage outside of their home market anywhere in Montana, at least not without charging an arm and a leg.
T-Mobile has also considered the Sprint/Clear 4G network for roaming cooperation, but that deal looks like it won't proceed without some even bigger obligations (read: money). With data, we may not necessarily need to pair GSM carriers with GSM carriers. Including WIMAX or LTE in new wireless devices shouldn't be that much of a problem. What is a problem is that the Top 2 carriers really don't need to cooperate with the small guys.
Yes, the spectrum belongs to the public. And the public can use it, as long as we pay Verizon or AT&T to use it outside the metro areas. Now how much do we miss the old Alltel?