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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).

October 23, 1997


In an address yesterday to the World Affairs Council in Philadelphia, FCC Chairman Reed Hundt predicted that "the ability of countries, businesses, and individuals to compete in this new global economy will be shaped by telecommunications policy." Observing that trade in services is growing on a worldwide basis at twice the rate of trade in goods, Hundt said that "information revolution is a catalyst of expansion in the services sector, and in other sectors of the economy from agriculture to manufacturing." He added that "of the 12 million jobs created since President Clinton took office, 8 million have been in the information sector, which now comprises one-seventh of the U.S. economy."

Hundt reviewed the course of progress from Vice President Gore's speech in Buenos Aires in 1994 establishing the principles of the Global Information Infrastructure, which Hundt called a "Bill of Rights for the Information Age," to the successful conclusion of the landmark World Trade Organization Agreement on basic telecommunications earlier this year. He noted that successful implementation of the WTO Agreement requires that "competitors must be able to gain access to existing networks at fair prices which will promote competition. And they must be able to get that access on an unbundled basis." Hundt also cited the need for "strong independent regulatory entities abroad," that are capable of devloping "clear and transparent licensing rules and criteria."

Looking ahead, Hundt observed how "the action is shifting to data networks," and predicted that within 5 years that "voice phone calls may account for as little as 10 percent of all telecommunications traffic." "Nothing embodies this shift more clearly than the Internet," which Hundt said "must be kept free from heavy-handed content regulations so that it can continue to thrive as a free forum of ideas and communication across borders and cultures." "It also means," said Hundt, "fostering the growth of electronic commerce by keeping the Internet free of new taxes when it is used to deliver goods and services." "Few actions have done more to promote economic growth and innovation than our refusal to regulate the Internet or to force onto the Internet the outdated, cumbersome regulatory regime that has so long harnessed circuit-switched telephony," he added.

Hundt observed that "just as the Internet is revolutionizing wireline telephony, so too is the extraordinary variety of wireless services that can provide circuit-switched, packet-switched, and every type of service under the sun." To promote these new technologies, Hundt stressed the need to increase capacity by getting out licenses in a transparent and timely manner; to find ways to deal with the next generation of trade barriers; to let the marketplace, not governments, set technical standards; and to ensure interoperablity among divergent technologies and networks. He added that governments should "fight to keep outdated regulatory restraints from being imposed on these technologies" and eliminate the vestiges of the monopoly era wherever possible. Hundt termed the Commission's international settlement rate benchmarks an important step in this direction.

Hundt also called upon telecommunications policymakers to maximize the use of existing multilateral institutions and to consider meeting annually to develop a code of pro-competition practices. He concluded that "to build a truly competitive, global information infrastructure, we must make sure it extends to every corner of the globe," emphasizing that "the information highway we are building must . . . span the gulf that separates the haves and the have-nots."

-- FCC --