Senators urge FCC delay on intercarrier compensation

A bi-partisan group of ten U.S. senators is urging the FCC to delay its vote on making changes to intercarrier compensation fees and the Universal Service Fund (USF), saying more time is needed to asses the potential disadvantages the changes would have on rural customers.

One of the many decisions the Federal Communications Commission is set to make on Nov. 4-- besides the $28.1 billion Verizon Wireless-Alltel merger, the Sprint-Clearwire deal to create the new Clearwire and a decision about the future use of white-space spectrum--is whether regulatory changes are needed to intercarrier compensation fees. FCC Chairman Kevin Martin has advocated dropping the complex rules that assess fees in favor of a uniform rate.

Consumer advocates have argued that this will benefit the major incumbent carriers financially, while pinching smaller rural carriers that depend upon the fees as a major source of income.

The senators, mainly from rural states, said in a letter to the FCC, that while the FCC's stated position is to use changes to the USF to expand rural broadband access, the proposed changes might actually hurt that effort.

"Instead of rushing a proposal through which has not been open for public review, great care needs to be taken to craft a policy which is comprehensive in nature and mindful of rural telecommunications customers when dealing with intercarrier compensation and USF reform," the senators said in a letter.

For more:
- see this release

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