Keep up with the latest developments and legal issues in the telecommunications and emerging technology sectors, with exclusive access to a comprehensive collection of telecommunications law news,...
The Federal Communications Commission should avoid favoring one type of broadband internet service provider over another in reforming the complex and interwoven Universal Service Fund and intercarrier compensation systems, former FCC Chairman Michael Powell said.
Powell, who is now president and chief executive officer of the National Cable and Telecommunications Association, spoke to reporters Oct. 7 at NCTA's offices in Washington, a day after the current chairman, Julius Genachowski, formally announced that the agency will vote on a comprehensive USF-ICC reform order.
While crediting Genachowski for working toward final resolution of the thornier issues, Powell said that companies providing telecommunications and broadband internet services should be treated equitably.
“If broadband is the infrastructure we're trying to incent more construction of, which is the principal claim of the reform, then you have to try to root out making distinctions in how the subsidies flow based on what kind of technology is being used,” Powell said.
“If a cable company is offering telephone service in its area and competing effectively, for any access charges that are available, we don't see any reason why they shouldn't compensated the same way as a TDM [time-division multiplexing] architecture does,” he added. “We're [cable providers] doing the exact same function.”
Genachowski's proposal, while short of details, seeks to overhaul the Universal Service Fund and intercarrier compensation regimes at the same time. Both systems are linked in the overall revenue stream that telecommunications carriers receive for their services. Both systems are considered broken by nearly all observers and in need of reform. Both systems remain, for the time being, intractable.
Historically, the Universal Service Fund has drawn from a surcharge that consumers pay on interstate telephone calls, but the decline in revenue from traditional long-distance calling is shrinking the base for contributions to the fund.
Meanwhile, the intercarrier compensation system has developed into a messy patchwork of payments among carriers for originating and terminating traffic
“Broadband makes no distinctions in the kinds of services they provide over the network. A bit is a bit, and you have to live up to the truth of that. … Why should anybody care?”
Michael Powell, National Cable and Telecommunications Association
“We've now gotten to the point where public officials will declare that the telephone system isn't the central communications infrastructure anymore; broadband is,” said Powell, commenting broadly on the FCC's reform effort. “Broadband makes no distinctions in the kinds of services they provide over the network. A bit is a bit, and you have to live up to the truth of that.”
Powell pointed out that consumers fail to make those distinctions, too.
“When I pick up the phone to call my sister, it makes no difference to me whether the architecture that underlies the fact that I'm engaged in that human activity is voice-over-internet protocol [VoIP], where the bits are being translated into digital data and sent over that kind of architecture, or whether it's a circuit-switched architecture. Why do I care as a consumer? Why should anybody care?”
Powell is slated testify to the Senate Commerce Committee on Universal Service Fund and intercarrier compensation reform Oct. 12.
All Bloomberg BNA treatises are available on standing order, which ensures you will always receive the most current edition of the book or supplement of the title you have ordered from Bloomberg BNA’s book division. As soon as a new supplement or edition is published (usually annually) for a title you’ve previously purchased and requested to be placed on standing order, we’ll ship it to you to review for 30 days without any obligation. During this period, you can either (a) honor the invoice and receive a 5% discount (in addition to any other discounts you may qualify for) off the then-current price of the update, plus shipping and handling or (b) return the book(s), in which case, your invoice will be cancelled upon receipt of the book(s). Call us for a prepaid UPS label for your return. It’s as simple and easy as that. Most importantly, standing orders mean you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you’re relying on. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.960.1220 or by sending an email to email@example.com.
Put me on standing order at a 5% discount off list price of all future updates, in addition to any other discounts I may quality for. (Returnable within 30 days.)
Notify me when updates are available (No standing order will be created).
This Bloomberg BNA report is available on standing order, which ensures you will all receive the latest edition. This report is updated annually and we will send you the latest edition once it has been published. By signing up for standing order you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you need. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.372.1033, option 5, or by sending us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Put me on standing order
Notify me when new releases are available (no standing order will be created)