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Federal Communications Commission
445 12th Street, S.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).

March 17, 1999
  News Media Contact:
Maureen Peratino at (202) 418-0500


Washington, DC --- Today FCC Chairman William Kennard outlined his vision for the future of the FCC before the House Subcommittee on Telecommunications, Trade, and Consumer Protection on Reauthorization of the Federal Communications Commission. He presented a report entitled, "A New Federal Communications Commission for the 21st Century," which committed the FCC to focusing on three core functions - consumer protection, including universal service; enforcement; and spectrum management.

Kennard noted that, "In . . . a world where old industry boundaries are no longer and competition is king, we need a New FCC. . . . [T]he traditional boundaries delineating the FCC's current operating bureaus will cease to be relevant. Simply, in five years time, the FCC will be dramatically transformed."

He said "Change is inevitable; it is necessary. But while we need change, we do not need chaos. We must re-organize the FCC in such a way that respects the integrity of our staff and protects the interests of the American people. And we cannot use this process as a back- door way to re-open the Telecom Act."

The reinvention of the FCC is well underway. Since becoming Chairman in November 1997, Kennard has emphasized the importance of strengthening agency enforcement as essential to protect consumers. As a result, the Commission has:

  • investigated and shut down and fined hundreds of companies that engaged in "slamming;"
  • shut down 261 unlicensed "pirate" radio operations, including five which were interfering with air traffic control or were otherwise endangering human life;
  • established a "fast-track" complaint process for resolution of complaints that are important to maintaining fair rules of competition;
  • promptly adjudicated and stopped long distance marketing arrangements that violated and attempted to evade the market-opening long distance provisions of the Telecom Act;
  • issued the first-ever Temporary Restraining Order halting alleged violations of the pro- competition provisions of the Communications Act.

Over the past 14 months, the Commission has also focused on ways to increase competition in the telecommunications area. Toward this end, some of the Commission's achievements include:

  • adopting new "slamming" rules;
  • proposing rules to establish a pro-competitive, pro-innovation framework for advanced telecommunications services offered by incumbent local telephone companies and by new entrants;
  • adopting a competitively neutral mechanism for long-term number portability cost recovery;
  • lowering barriers to non-U.S. licensed satellites providing service within the U.S.;
  • implementing the WTO Agreement on Basic Telecommunications Services;
  • lowering barriers to entry by foreign carriers in the United States;
  • adopting rules requiring set top boxes, cable modems and other navigation devices be available "over the counter" as well as from cable companies;
  • conducting 800 MHz, LMDS and 220 MHz auctions;
  • issuing 1,608 licenses;
  • reopening review of access charges;
  • issuing a bandplan for the 18 GHz band, segmenting the band to allow new satellite services to operate without interfering with terrestrial operations.

Since December of 1997, the Commission has stressed the importance of removing unnecessary burdensome regulations. The Commission's efforts to streamline regulations include:

  • adopting rules to auction mutually exclusive applications for broadcast licenses;
  • streamlining the broadcast application process to reduce the number and length of forms:
  • simplifying the equipment authorization process;
  • implementing electronic filing for authorization requests for common carrier tariffs and comments and pleadings in most notice and comment rulemakings;
  • proposing specific streamlining initiatives in over two dozen areas, as part of the 1998 biennial regulatory review.

- FCC -

Office of Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs contact: Steve Klitzman at (202) 418-1900.