FCC to vote on USF at December meeting

In addition to the controversial proposal on AWS-3 spectrum, the FCC will vote on proposed rule changes to the Universal Service Fund (USF) when it convenes for its last meeting of the year Dec. 18.

At the Nov. 4 FCC meeting that involved several high-profile votes, Chairman Kevin Martin made it clear that he wanted to bring the USF proposal to a vote at the December meeting, after other commissioners had balked at voting on it.

Martin has advocated dropping the complex rules that assess fees in favor of a uniform rate. The current system assesses the fees based on a variety of factors, including the kind of carriers involved, the traffic on the network and how far the traffic travels. Martin's move has drawn criticism from consumer advocates who say it will favor the Tier 1 wireless carriers and do significant damage to smaller rural carriers that depend on the fees as a major source of their income.

In October, several U.S. senators, mostly from rural states, sent a letter to the FCC, urging the FCC to delay its vote, so that more time could be taken to assess the potential damage to rural customers.

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