Under pressure from Congress and consumer groups, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Kevin Martin has canceled a vote tomorrow on a plan to overhaul intercarrier compensation and Universal Service Fund (USF) regulation.
Martin had proposed a "dramatic" update of inter-carrier compensation, along with a review of the way phone companies receive and can spend Universal Service Fund monies, but lawmakers and advocacy groups wanted to get a look at the details as to what would be proposed while giving affected parties the chance to comment.
Reform details had been closely held, but reports said the rule changes would have resulted in the abolishment of the complex set of accounting "settlements" between larger carriers and rural phone companies, in exchange for a simplified rate policy that would have likely boosted rural phone line fees by a couple of dollars.
In addition, Universal Service Fund monies would have been used to compensate rural carriers for lost moneys, but USF funds would have to be specifically invested in broadband expansion.
If intercarrier compensation was reformed, large phone companies would stand to save the most money between lower fees and simplified accounting, while smaller rural carriers would lose out on a major source of revenue.
Last week, 100 members of Congress publicly petitioned the FCC to delay the vote while behind-the-scenes discussions took place between Capital Hill and the FCC commissioners.
- FCC announces the removal of vote on wireline compensation. Release.
100 members of Congress want FCC intercarrier compensation vote delay
FCC considers intercarrier fee, USF changes - FierceTelecom