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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 9, 1998

FCC Commissioner Susan Ness Calls for Continuation
of "Internet-friendly" FCC Policies

In a speech today before the WashingtonWeb Internet Policy Forum, FCC Commissioner Susan Ness applauded FCC decisions that fostered the growth of the Internet and urged that procompetitive, deregulatory principles continue to be applied. "Throughout the evolution of the Internet, the FCC has been careful to tread lightly," she declared. "We want to promote investment and innovation, not unnecessary work for government and unnecessary constraints on businesses or consumers."

Commissioner Ness pointed out that the FCC has repeatedly resisted proposals to extend its regulatory reach. "We haven t required Internet service providers to pay the per-minute 'access charges' that are imposed on long-distance carriers. We haven t subjected ISPs to any of the other regulatory requirements that the Communications Act places on carriers -- such as price regulation or tariff filing or universal service requirements. We haven t barred providers of software for Internet telephony from selling their products."

She noted that the FCC is currently grappling with three primary policy challenges regarding the Internet:

  • First, as the Internet grows and evolves, we need to review existing regulatory classifications and their attendant consequences. The FCC must report to Congress on the regulatory treatment of "transmission services" and "information services," and to do so it needs to assess the appropriate treatment of new services -- such as Internet telephony -- that blur traditional distinctions.

  • Second, we must ensure that homes and businesses have access to the bandwidth needed to fully exploit the Internet s potential. "[T]he single most important thing we can do to promote bandwidth in the 'last mile' to the home is to accelerate competition among multiple providers." She solicited industry and user support "in breaking open the local telephone and cable monopolies."

  • Third, we must enable our children to take full advantage of this extraordinary tool in schools all across the country; and ensure that the benefits the Internet can bring to rural communities are fully realized. Citing the "danger of social and economic divisions between information 'haves' and information 'have-nots,'" and the pressing need for skilled workers "to compete in a global economy that is increasingly dependent on information technology," Commissioner Ness saluted Congress for deciding to "promote telecommunications and information access for schools, libraries, and rural health care providers."

For further information, contact: Jim Casserly 202/418-2100