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Federal Communications Commission
1919 - M Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20554
News media information 202 / 418-0500
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Internet: http://www.fcc.gov

This is an unofficial announcement of Commission action. Release of the full text of a Commission order constitutes official action. See MCI v. FCC. 515 F 2d 385 (D.C. Circ 1974).

January 26, 1998


FCC Chairman William Kennard hailed the decision reached in Geneva today on entry into force of the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement on Basic Telecommunications Services. WTO Members agreed that the pact would become effective on February 5, just one year after the agreement was concluded.

Chairman Kennard said, "This agreement allows telecommunications consumers worldwide to enjoy the benefits of improved competition in basic and advanced telecommunications services. It will increase investment and competition in the United States, leading to lower prices, enhanced innovation and better service. At the same time, market access commitments from major trading partners will provide U.S. service suppliers opportunities to expand abroad."

As of today, most of the WTO members participating in the WTO Basic Telecom Agreement had taken the actions necessary to make their commitments effective, including the United States. However a handful of WTO members, representing less than five percent of world telecom traffic, had not taken such actions. Chairman Kennard stated that, "The Commission will monitor developments in these countries closely, and the Commission expects that our trading partners will act quickly to fulfill their commitments and not lose the benefits associated with a liberalized telecommunications sector." He also emphasized that the U.S. Government will monitor implementation by all WTO members.

In November 1997, the Commission adopted new rules in anticipation of entry into force of the WTO Agreement. These new rules, which will become effective in early February, will further promote competition in the United States telecommunications market by facilitating entry of foreign service providers and investors. The new rules also contain improved competitive safeguards to protect against anticompetitive conduct.

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News Media contact: Meribeth McCarrick at (202) 418-0256
International Bureau contact: Robert Calaff at (202) 418-0420