Coalition Files Intercarrier Compensation Plan With FCC

A coalition made up of carriers and the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) on Monday filed its proposal for intercarrier compensation reform with the FCC.

The Missoula Plan so named because key discussions took place in Missoula, Mont. provides a transition from the narrowband world to broadband by reducing and unifying intercarrier compensation rates, supporters said. It also would promote the building of broadband infrastructure, they said. The effort brought together regulators and more than 350 carriers.

We are hopeful and cautiously optimistic that when [the plan] goes to the FCC, which is today, that it will be put out relatively quickly so people can comment, said Joel Lubin, Missoula Plan spokesman and vice president of federal government affairs for AT&T Inc.

The Missoula Plan contains three tiers, one each for small, medium and large carriers, Lubin explained. It also applies to every type of traffic, including VoIP. Its impact on wireless carriers and U.S. consumers likely would vary; Lubin admitted not every customer in this country will be better off because of the plan and said wireless carriers could end up paying more to complete calls on wireline networks.

The idea is that, within four years, intercarrier charges would be unified for most of the nations lines, reducing the highest rates and moving intercarrier rates for all traffic closer together.

The group said it has devised a way to help carriers recover reduced intercarrier compensation revenue, including identifying and getting money from phantom traffic. Lubin said the plan addresses that problem by defining obligations for call signaling from originating and terminating carriers.

Other details were sketchy and the plan was not yet available for review from the FCC, although Commissioner Deborah T. Tate issued a statement praising NARUCs Intercarrier Compensation Task Force and carrier participants in helping form the plan.

Lubin said he thought the proposal could become a rule by early 2007. The Missoula Plan was on the agenda for discussion at NARUCs summer meeting, which starts July 28 in San Francisco.

AT&T Inc.

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