Groups lobby FCC for delays on rate reform, white space votes

More groups are urging the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to delay votes on intercarrier compensation, universal service fund reform and TV white space currently scheduled for a November 4 meeting.

The Coalition for Affordable Communications - an association of rural phone and broadband providers - took out ads today urging the FCC to "Stop the Vote" on intercarrier compensation and universal service fund reform in a number of Capital Hill news publications, including Roll Call, Congress AM Daily and Politico. The Coalition says it is worried that the FCC order could result in higher phone rates for millions of customers, cause job losses and impede the development of critical broadband infrastructure.

Only yesterday, AT&T came out in favor of the order. By some accounts, the bill would raise some consumer bills by $1.50 per month, while also actually bringing faster Internet service to rural areas.

Under current rules, phone companies pay one another to carry calls that cross service area boundaries in a complex accounting scheme. FCC Chairman Kevin Martin wants to lower intercarrier compensation rates to almost nothing, while allowing companies receiving a loss from the change to raise subscriber rates by $1.50 for residential phone lines. In addition, universal service funding would change so that subsidies for rural areas would be given to companies that promise to deliver high-speed Internet service to all of their customers and can prove they are losing money by providing the service.

Meanwhile, the CEOs of the four major broadcast television networks have lined up to push for a delay on a November 4 vote on TV white space usage. In a letter to the FCC, News Corp., ABC/Disney, CBS, and NBC Universal executives say they want more time for their engineers to study a recently released FCC report on white space usage.

However, the broadcast industry has to square off against the lobbying might of Microsoft, Google, and HP, among others. On Monday, Bill Gates was on the phone to Martin and Democratic FCC commissioner Michael Copps to urge them to approve the white spaces move next week.

For more:
- Coalition for Affordable Communication asking FCC to delay vote on USF, intercarrier compensation. Release.
- Dallas Morning News reports AT&T in favor of FCC intercarrier & USF reform. Article.
- Wall Street Journal reports on broadcasters against FCC white spaces vote. Article.

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