FCC Reforms USF and Intercarrier Compensation
Last week, the FCC adopted a Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking refocusing the Universal Service Fund ("USF") on broadband and adopting a series of widely supported reforms to USF and Intercarrier Compensation ("ICC"). The FCC released an Executive Summary of its decision, the official text should be published in several weeks. Subject to an annual cap of $4.5 billion, USF will now support broadband service, as well voice service. Over time, existing USF programs will be subsumed within the broadband-focused Connect America Fund ("CAF"). Initially, CAF will provide a baseline level of support to Price Cap LECs and rate of return (small rural) LECs to provide broadband service in areas currently lacking broadband service. In addition, the FCC created a new Mobility Fund of $300 million that will support deployment of wireless broadband in unserved areas. This fund will grow to $500 million over time. In several years, reverse auctions likely will be used to distribute CAF funds. CAF may provide up to $100 million for satellite and unlicensed wireless services in extreme high cost areas. The major reform in ICC is that access charges and intercarrier compensation payments will be reduced and, ultimately, eliminated over six to nine years at which time carriers will interconnect with each other on a "bill and keep" basis. The FCC also clarified that ICC rules apply to VoIP traffic to the same extent as circuit switched services. For more information, please contact Doug Jarrett (202.434.4180; email@example.com).
FCC Affirms Broadband over Power Line rules
Last week, the FCC issued a Second Report and Order affirming its rules to regulate Access Broadband over Power Line ("BPL") systems as unlicensed, unintentional radiators. Access BPL service transmits broadband data along existing electrical distribution systems using radio frequencies ranging between 3 MHz and 80 MHz. The Commission adopted rules regulating BPL in 2004, which were challenged by the American Radio Relay League shortly thereafter. In 2008, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals required the FCC to provide unredacted versions of certain technical studies it relied on in promulgating the BPL rules, permit public comment on those studies and offer an explanation of its choice of the 40 dB per decade extrapolation factor used to measure radiated emissions from Access BPL systems at frequencies below 30 MHz. The Second Report and Order provided additional support for the 2004 rules but left the original rules adopted in 2004 largely unchanged. Please contact Jack Richards (202.434.4210; firstname.lastname@example.org) with questions.
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