100 members of Congress want FCC intercarrier compensation vote delay

There are 535 members of Congress and, at last count, 100 of them have asked the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to delay a November 4 vote on reforming intercarrier compensation and the Universal Service Fund.

Twenty-two Senators and 78 Representatives have asked FCC Chairman Kevin Martin to put out the details - now closely held within the FCC - of the rule changes for 60 to 90 days of public comment on the specifics. 

However, the protests don't appear to be postponing the FCC vote. Instead, there appears to be behind-the-scenes negotiations between the FCC commissioners themselves, the FCC and Capitol Hill as to how far the agency will go with the order when it votes.

The FCC is working under a November 5 court-ordered deadline to justify a 1999 agency decision on rules under which Internet phone companies can use traditional carrier lines. But the deadline has spurred a much larger overhaul, with Martin proposing a "dramatic" update of inter-carrier compensation, along with a review of the way phone companies receive and can spend Universal Service Fund money.

If the FCC softens its approach, as some lawmakers want, and it lays out a broad framework for policy overhaul and punts the specifics down the road, Congress is less likely to jump in with bills to "correct" the agency. However, if FCC takes a hard line, legislators are likely to rally to take action, especially Senators from rural states.

For more:
- CQ Today does a head count on Congresspeople for a delay in FCC voting. Article.

Related articles
FCC considers intercarrier fee, USF changes - FierceTelecom
Revising Intercarrier Compensation. - FierceTelecom

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