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August 3, 2000


The approval of INTELSAT's licenses is an important step in promoting competition for the benefit of consumers.

Congress, the Administration and this Commission have long viewed the privatization of INTELSAT as necessary for achieving competition in satellite communications. Through this action, we are implementing the recently-enacted ORBIT Act, which establishes a framework for U.S. satellite policy. Authorizing INTELSAT to become an FCC licensee should provide a strong impetus to the international negotiations that are now taking place to privatize INTELSAT next year. Today's action also should demonstrate to other countries in those negotiations that U.S. policies and procedures are fair and transparent, and that the Commission issues licenses with the goal of promoting competition.

This action also provides the opportunity to pursue one of the goals I feel most strongly about - expanding access in developing countries. Many countries rely on INTELSAT as the primary, if not only, means of connecting to the rest of the world. Maintaining global connectivity is essential to the economies of those countries as they seek to expand their telecom infrastructures. The licenses that we issue today permit INTELSAT to continue to undertake its obligation to provide lifeline connectivity services. In addition, FCC licensing of INTELSAT allows the Commission to work more closely with INTELSAT to support our common goals to support expanded access to thin route countries. I am deeply and personally committed to ensuring that the needs of INTELSAT's lifeline users are met and look forward to working with INTELSAT towards that goal in the future.

Finally, we have before us a unique situation: the authorization of the already operating system of an intergovernmental organization that is undergoing privatization. This system has never been subject to a national licensing regime. In this respect, we are rejecting the demands of those who believe we should not take steps to accommodate this transition. Our failure to take these steps would have resulted in added costs and service delays that would weaken INTELSAT both as a competitor and provider of access to the developing world.

- FCC -