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Federal Communications Commission
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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).

February 11, 1998


In delivering an "inside the beltway" perspective on telecommunications in Washington to a Joint Session of the Puerto Rico Legislature, FCC Commissioner Gloria Tristani today noted that "Any discussion of telecommunications in Washington begins with the Telecommunications Act of 1996."

She said that, measured against realistic expectations, "I would say . . . [the Act] has been a modest success so far, and it is destined to be a great success." She said this was because of the Act's commitment to competition and universal service.

She noted the increase in the number of new entrants in the telecom industry since the Act's passage and said, "Replacing monopoly with competition puts us on the right side of history, and it will help to provide us with a better way of life. New providers of telecommunications will create many new jobs. They will also make American businesses more efficient and productive in countless ways. This will become more evident as the global economy exposes all industries to overseas competition, and our telecommunications system gives American businesses a true competitive advantage."

She noted that the Act's directive that the FCC fix universal service so that it works in a competitive market and so that it does not diminish competition is an extraordinarily difficult task "and I commend my predecessors for the tremendous progress they made with reforming universal service." She said "universal service has been one of the most successful programs ever undertaken by our government . . . [and] as I begin my new job at the FCC I want you to know that I am committed to developing policies to preserve the gains already made by universal service and to adopting new rules that permit fair competition that benefits consumers." She noted that Puerto Rico, with a 76 percent penetration rate for phone service was far below the 94 percent penetration rate of the rest of the country. She pledged to keep Puerto Rico's situation "very much in mind as I participate in the FCC's effort to implement the new universal service rules."

Commissioner Tristani said she would also be vigilant about the implementation of the "rate integration" requirement of the 1996 Act which requires that a long distance carrier servicing an offshore point must employ the same rate structure it uses for its mainland services. "Without rate integration," she said, "rates for long distance service could increase substantially."

She said that, as a former state regulator, "I am sensitive to the demands and responsibilities of state commissioners." She said that the current FCC "has great confidence in the ability of state commissions to serve the interests of their residents. In fact, it is service to their citizens that is the bond between the FCC and state commissions. That is why I believe we will have a productive relationship with the states in the coming years."

Commissioner Tristani also noted her interest in increasing competition to bring down cable rates and addressing the problem of the quality of children's television programs.