WASHINGTON (AP) -- A federal appeals court has rejected a Verizon (NYSE:VZ) challenge to a Federal Communications Commission rule aimed at increasing competition in wireless broadband service.

The three-judge panel ruled Tuesday that the FCC had the legal authority to issue the "data roaming rule." The rule requires big wireless carriers to open their data networks to smaller regional operators in places where they don't have their own systems. The large carriers must offer network access at reasonable prices.

Verizon has called the rule "unwarranted government intervention," and challenged it on several grounds -- including that the FCC lacked the statutory authority to issue it.

But appeals court judges Thomas Griffith, David S. Tatel, and Merrick B. Garland disagreed. Griffith was appointed by President George W. Bush; the other two by President Bill Clinton.

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