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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
TTY: 202/418-2555

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 27, 2000

News Media contact:
Rosemary Kimball at (202) 418-0511


Lisbon, Portugal -- William E. Kennard, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), told a telecommunications industry group in Lisbon on Monday that "for the Information economy to develop to its full potential in your country and mine there needs to be available affordable broadband telecommunications infrastructure. As you know, this will only happen when there is true and full competition."

He noted, "In 1994 there were three million Internet users in the United States. Today there are 200 million, more than a sixty-fold increase. Our Internet traffic is doubling every one hundred days. Forty-four percent of Americans have Internet access at home or at work. In 1998, the U.S. Internet economy generated an estimated $300 billion in revenues, and was responsible for 1.2 million jobs. And electronic commerce, which is ninety percent business-to- business, is projected to be a trillion-dollar activity in the next three to five years."

He added, "Already, directly or indirectly, through our information and telecommunications sectors, the Internet is linked to one-third of my nation's real economic growth. Because costs are decreasing in these sectors and in the Internet, the Internet also is linked to reducing our inflation rate by one-third. The communications and information sectors, coupled with the Internet, now account for a full fifteen percent of our gross domestic product."

Chairman Kennard noted that the dynamic growth of the Internet in the United States "was a direct result of government policy. Where competition was present, these policies involved allowing the market at issue to operate free of government regulation. At other times, such as when we were introducing competition to monopoly sectors, we had to act aggressively to break open monopolies and promote competition. These decisions required that we have the independence from political pressures to make the tough decisions, and that we be able to back up those decisions with aggressive and predictable enforcement. Whether we opt for restraint or active regulation, both types of decisions are subject to significant scrutiny. In that type of environment it is important that we not shrink from our duty to put the interests of consumers above every other concern. Ultimately, if the consumer wins, the economy as a whole does as well."

He noted that the change to competition has not been easy but said he had been given the tools to do the job decision-making authority and enforcement authority. He said, "we have learned that all the rules on the books will not bring competition if the rules are not honored. It is critical for the regulator to have enforcement authority to step in if necessary to stop the inevitable attempts by the incumbent to slow down the pace of competition."

Chairman Kennard closed by saying, "Portugal has a unique opportunity to lead the way over the next six months as it assumes the Presidency of the European Union. With this position, it can work to ensure that pro-competitive principles deregulate where markets are competitive, and act aggressively where they are not are given meaning in this first year of the new millennium."

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