Anticipation has been building for the past few months about universal service fund (USF) and intercarrier compensation (ICC) reform. The FCC was originally set to vote on historic changes to the multi-billion dollar telecom settlement process this past Election Day. The debate was then delayed to December 18th. Now December 18th looks unlikely, since the FCC just extended the public comment deadline on USF reform until December 22nd. The debate and its resulting reform has huge implications for the competitive landscape and the telecom industry as a whole. USF and ICC are revenue lifelines for hundreds of telecom service providers across the U.S., and also help fuel pitched battles between telecompetitors.
This delay all but ensures reform won’t be addressed until the new Obama administration is in place. FCC Chairman Martin has spearheaded the reform movement, but his days as chairman are numbered. Safe to say, the reform agenda will probably look somewhat different when democrats become in charge of the FCC, and have more power to shape the agenda and debate. Some were suggesting that this reform movement was going to be Martin’s “swan song” as he departed the FCC. Looks like he’ll have to find some other cause to champion in his few remaining weeks.