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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).

November 9, 1999
Michelle Russo at (202) 418-2358

FCC Cable Chief Says "Open" Internet is Primary Goal
Cites Agreement of Consumers and Industry

Los Angeles, CA - November 9 - Federal Communications Commission Cable Services Bureau Chief Deborah A. Lathen today emphasized that an FCC goal is to fulfill the promise of broadband technology by encouraging the market to bring high-speed Internet service to all American homes.

Addressing the broadband Internet access issue which is being debated in Los Angeles and other cities around the country - Lathen explained that all parties agree that "openness" is the ultimate goal, and the debate centers on the best course of action to achieve that goal.

In a luncheon speech to the Los Angeles public affairs organization, "Town Hall," Lathen said that the FCC's policy of "regulatory restraint" upholds the goals of the 1996 Telecommunications Act to promote competition and reduce regulation.

Lathen said that the FCC always considers the consumer first in the policymaking process. Lathen also explained that the FCC's policy of "vigilant restraint" is complemented by close monitoring of the industry .

Lathen said that the FCC is monitoring broadband developments closely to be alert to any actions or risks that could be detrimental to consumers, such as the threat of a cable monopoly of broadband, the creation of an irreversibly closed system or the threat of inconsistent local regulation. However, Lathen noted that signs of robust competition are emerging and that these threatening signs appear to be absent at this time.

Lathen outlined several preliminary findings concerning the broadband industry:

  • The broadband industry is in its infancy.

  • Cable modem deployment has spurred alternative broadband technologies, like digital subscriber lines (DSL), and these technologies "follow each other" into new markets.

  • Regulation or threat of regulation may slow deployment of broadband.

  • Market forces will compel cable companies to negotiate access agreements with unaffiliated ISPs, preventing cable companies from keeping systems closed and proprietary.

  • If market forces fail and cable becomes the dominant means of Internet access, regulation might then be necessary to promote competition.

  • Rapid nationwide broadband deployment depends on a national policy.

A copy of Lathen's speech, "The Mind's Eye," as prepared for delivery, can be found on the FCC web site (www.fcc.gov).

- FCC -

Cable Services Bureau Contacts: Deborah A. Lathen, Adonis Hoffman, James Heimbach at (202) 418-7200.