Verizon, Sprint, USTelecom join challengers to USF reform plan

Sprint (NYSE: S), Verizon (NYSE: VZ) and the USTelecom Association are the latest to rail against the FCC's move to realign the Universal Service Fund.

Julius Genachowski, FCC

Genachowski

Currently set on providing low-cost phone service to rural areas, the agency enacted rules in October to shift the fund towards broadband, an effort that it also hopes will curtail fraud and abuse and reform intercarrier compensation (ICC), the process where service providers pay one another to complete calls over their networks.

One of the provisions of the ICC reform is that cable operators should be equally compensated for exchanging and terminating VoIP traffic with traditional telco-originated PSTN traffic.

Besides this new trio of challengers, the USF reform has been challenged by AT&T and the National Telecommunications Cooperative Association, which represents rural service providers. AT&T, for one, was concerned with the VoIP provision, arguing that terminating TDM-based voice traffic was more complicated than interconnecting VoIP traffic.  

Other companies and organizations that have asked the FCC to reconsider the proposal are wireless operator MetroPCS, OPASTCO (Organization for the Promotion and Advancement of Small Telecommunications Companies) and the Western Telecom Alliance.

The timing of the new challenges follows FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski's proposal to move the Lifeline voice service program from voice toward broadband and reduce program abuse.

For more:
- Multichannel News has this article

Special report: Year in review 2011: The stories that dominated the wireline industry

Related articles:
FCC lays out USF reform plan that redirects funds to broadband
NTCA asks FCC to review its USF/ICC reform stance
FCC's Genachowski to reveal USF reform plans
6 large telcos put broadband, USF reform proposals on the table

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