The FCC took it right down to the wire, but reported that it will not vote today on a proposal that would rework the current intercarrier compensation system in which phone companies pay each other to transfer calls.

Kevin Martin
FCC Chairman Kevin Martin

FCC Chairman Kevin Martin had been seeking to reform the intercarrier compensation system toward something more uniform. His plan also included major changes to the $7 billion Universal Service Fund (USF), which subsidizes telecom service in rural communities through a surcharge on phone bills. Among other things, Martin would have required carriers to use universal service money to invest in broadband networks in parts of the country that lack high-speed Internet connections.

A number of organizations such as the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) breathed a collective sigh of relief following the decision to delay action on intercarrier compensation and USF.

“It is our hope that Chairman Martin will agree with the other four FCC commissioners, an overwhelming number of lawmakers, state regulators, industry and consumer groups and open these proposals for public comment. We look forward to working with the FCC and others in our effort to ensure that the intercarrier compensation and universal service programs are properly reformed this year,” said NARUC Telecommunications Committee Chairman Ray Baum of Oregon.

The FCC is still scheduled to vote on the white spaces issue, which is the unused spectrum that exists next to the 700 MHz band and could provide unlicensed access for wireless service. Many groups, including Google and Microsoft, support the flexible use of white spaces for inexpensive access to wireless service. However, broadcasters and other service providers maintain the spectrum could interfere with existing services.

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