The Federal Communications Commission is postponing a controversial vote on how phone companies pay each other for long-distance calls that traverse their networks, reports CNET–a vote that also has important implications for the fund that supports the federal e-Rate. The commission was expected to vote Nov. 4 on a proposal spearheaded by Chairman Kevin Martin that would have drastically changed intercarrier compensation, the complex system established between phone companies for paying each other for connecting long-distance calls. It also would have changed how fees are assessed and collected for the Universal Service Fund, which helps phone companies provide service in rural areas and also pays for the e-Rate, which provides discounts on telecommunications services to eligible schools and libraries. But on Nov. 3, the FCC pulled the item from its agenda, which means a vote on these highly controversial issues will be delayed. The four commissioners are asking to reopen public discussion on several proposals with the hope that the item can be brought up again at the FCC’s Dec. 18 meeting. Martin’s proposals were largely seen as beneficial to large phone companies such as AT&T, Verizon Communications, and Qwest Communications International. But consumer advocates, small and midsize phone companies, and state regulators have been opposed to the proposals, arguing they would ultimately jack up prices for phone service…

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