September 28, 1998
|Re:||AT&T Corp., v. Ameritech Corp. and Qwest Communications Corp.; AT&T Corp. v. U S WEST Communications Inc., and Qwest Communications Corp.; McLeod Telecommunications Services, Inc. v. U S WEST Communications, Inc., Memorandum Opinion and Order|
I fully agree with the Commission's conclusion that U S WEST and Ameritech have violated section 271 by providing in-region long distance service through their arrangements with Qwest. I support this finding with reluctance and optimism. On the one hand, consumers thus far have benefitted little from the Telecommunications Act of 1996. A decision to deprive them of a popular service, when viewed in isolation, is counter-intuitive. In that sense, I vote to approve this Order with some reluctance. Yet it must be emphasized that our decision today reflects our fidelity to Congress's carefully constructed framework for achieving the larger goal of meaningful local competition.
This proceeding also leaves me with a sense of optimism. The long distance market, in my view, continues to exhibit oligopolistic behavior. I am not convinced that consumers today are receiving the benefits of full competition. That will change when the power of Bell Companies' brand names and marketing capability is lawfully brought to bear on the long distance market. Bell Company entry into the long distance business portends a major shakeup for the current market leaders, and I believe that upheaval will result in new products, lower prices and better service for consumers. I hope that day will come sooner rather than later.