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Federal Communications Commission
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Washington, D.C. 20554
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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).

July 15, 1997


The FCC's Network Reliability and Interoperability Council today called on the Commission to let marketplace forces resolve most network interoperability issues as the nation tries to bring additional competition to the telecommunications industry. The Council released its final report, written by over 200 technical experts from all parts of the telecommunications industry, at a meeting of the FCC this morning.

The Council was established by the FCC to provide advice on how to improve the reliability of the public switched networks and on other issues requiring technical expertise in telecommunications. Its members represent all sectors of the telecommunications industry, including telephone companies, cable television companies, wireless and satellite companies, and Internet service providers.

In April of last year the FCC asked the group how several objectives specified in Section 256 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 should be accomplished. Those objectives include (1) promoting nondiscriminatory accessibility by the broadest number of users and vendors of communications products and services to public telecommunications networks and (2) assuring the ability of users and information providers to "seamlessly and transparently transmit and receive information between and across telecommunications networks."

Representatives of the Council summarized the key findings and consensus recommendations of its report. FCC Chairman Reed Hundt thanked the members of the NRIC for their efforts to ensure effective competition in the telecommunications industry by fostering interoperability and accessibility of the public switched networks.

Emphasizing the need to foster growth in the Internet and other high bandwidth applications, Hundt noted how the rapid deployment of new technologies presents new challenges in ensuring the reliability of the network. He underscored that to assess possible strains on the public switched network, "industry and the FCC need more accurate data -- as soon as possible," and welcomed the Council's recommendations for reducing the possibility of network congestion caused by Internet users.

The Council made clear that the FCC could not leave interoperability issues entirely to private activities. It called on the FCC to establish a list of national services for which there is a compelling need for interoperability.

The Council also developed a set of tools to address specific interoperability issues. To address concerns about the potential of Internet usage to cause congestion on the public switched network, it developed an Internet Interconnection Specification Template to guide network planning between Internet Services Providers and common carriers who interconnect with them to deliver Internet services to end users.

To improve access to telecommunications standard-setting

processes by individuals with disabilities and consumers in rural areas, two areas of concern noted in the Telecommunications Act, the Council developed recommendations for the standards organizations, the FCC, and those communities.

Representing the Council were its Chairman, Ivan Seidenberg, Chairman and CEO of NYNEX; Gerald H. Peterson, Technical Standards Director, AT&T Labs and Chairman of Standards Committee T-1 - Telecommunications; William J. Blatt, Vice- President, Major Accounts at Nortel; Casimir S. Skrzypczak, Group President, Professional Services, at Bellcore, and John R. Gunter, Vice President, Network Strategic Planning and Support at BellSouth.

The Council's report is available electronically at http://www.fcc.gov/oet/nric.

News media contact: Jodie Buenning at (202) 418-7272.

Office of Engineering and Technology contact: Jim Keegan at (202) 418-2323.