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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).

January 15, 1998


FCC Commissioner Michael K. Powell today called for a new "collaborative approach" in how the FCC implements section 271 of the Act, under which Bell Operating Companies (BOCs) apply to provide long distance service within their local service regions.

Powell said, "I believe the Commission must, in advance of each potential BOC application, work closely with the relevant State Commission, the Justice Department, the applicant and potential entrants with the express purpose of finding common ground on which the application can be approved."

Powell said that he questions the recent decision by the United States District Court in Texas to strike down sections 271-275 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 as unconstitutional, but says the Court's order is a "stern wake up call" to us all.

Powell said that the Court's finding that the section 271 process is burdensome, indefinite and arbitrary "highlights the perception, among many industry stakeholders, regulators and observers, that the section 271 process is broken or at least in need of significant repair."

Commissioner Powell outlined three dimensions to his "collaborative approach":

(1) National Assessment: Establish an open process under which Federal and State authorities and the industry would identify broad national policies or sets of potential outcomes that would satisfy section 271's competitive checklist;

(2) State-Tailored Solutions: Conduct investigations with Federal and State authorities with the goal of tailoring these general policies to specific States or regions prior to the filing of an application; and

(3) Application Evaluation: Evaluate the application itself, once filed.

Powell said, "It is imperative that this Commission shift away from its current approach and adopt a new cooperative section 271 model, assuming the courts do not determine the Constitution bars such a model."

He said that with the adoption of the revised 271 approach, the FCC "may assure the industry that we are serious about enforcing the competitive checklist rigorously, but in a manner designed to produce success rather than failure."

Powell emphasized that "I am not calling for a process that will make it easy for BOCs to get into long distance, without first having to comply fully with the local market opening measures set out by Congress and this Commission. What I am calling for is a process that will clearly place in the hands of the BOCs the seeds of their own success, which will ultimately bear fruit for the American consumer."

Commissioner Powell's essay on the section 271 process can be downloaded from his internet site at http://www.fcc.gov/commissioners/powell/ on the World Wide Web.

Contact: Kyle Dixon at (202) 418-2200.