The current FCC’s haste to wrap up unfinished business appears to be aggravating nearly everyone on nearly everything.
The Commission is set to vote on new rules on intercarrier compensation and regarding the Universal Service Fund (USF) that has roused the opposition not only of the cable industry, but also of the Communications Workers of America (CWA) and the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP).
The complaints are the same as those made about the FCC’s plan to vote on approving white space communications technology – the FCC is ignoring its established process for rule making.
The NCTA filed a letter protesting the FCC’s haste to adopt new rules on intercarrier compensation. No one, least of all the NCTA, questions that new rules are necessary, for both intercarrier connection and the USF.
The USF is a fund that carriers are supposed to pay into; the aim is to create a pool of funds that can be tapped to bring service to customers who otherwise might not get service because it is too expensive to connect them. Intercarrier rules, meanwhile, dictate how different communications companies connect to each other and the rates they must pay to each other. AT&T and Verizon (and Qwest) are the recipients of most interconnection fees.
The apparent problem with the proposed changes to intercarrier connection – cable, the CWA and AARP agree – is that the rules under consideration, devised by AT&T and Verizon, are vague, incomplete and appear likely to seriously inconvenience other carriers, and they are widely expected to lead to higher fees that will ultimately lead to higher phone bills.
Those opposed to the hasty Nov. 4 vote have lined up 10 Senators who have advised the FCC to postpone its vote on intercarrier connection and the USF.
NCTA President Kyle McSlarrow, in his letter to the FCC, said, “The various interconnection rules proposed by AT&T and Verizon over the last few months would hinder, rather than promote, competition, and therefore they should not be included in any new rules the Commission adopts next month.”
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