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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).

March 4, 1998


There is growing evidence that the Telecommunications Act of 1996 is stimulating increased investment in all sectors of the telecommunications marketplace, declared Commissioner Susan Ness in the opening address at the Economic Strategy Inc.'s Conference on Broadband Investment.

She noted that "Congress, in passing the Act -- and the FCC, in implementing it -- have agreed on a vital point: the right question is not whether a policy promotes investment, but whether it promotes efficient investment, competitive investment. . . . And although there have been bumps in the road and even some unexpected detours, we are now seeing the signs of healthy investment that Congress desired."

Ness cited significant broadband investments in multiple market sectors, including both incumbent and competitive local telephone providers, cable television, licensed and unlicensed wireless services, digital broadcasting, and satellites.

"While it has become fashionable to complain that the Telecommunications Act has not yet brought about all the benefits that were contemplated, in fact we're off to a pretty good start -- all things considered," she noted. Some of the expectations associated with the Telecomm Act were unrealistic. Not concerning what would happen, but how long it would take. Telecommunications is an infrastructure business -- like railroads and highways and electricity. Building infrastructure takes time. Two years after the Interstate Highway Act, you couldn't drive 60 miles an hour from Portland, Oregon, to Portland, Maine. Why should progress in telecommunications occur any faster?"

She also applauded Congress's decision to provide discounts on communications and information access to schools and libraries. "The costs of this program should be thought of as an investment -- a wise one. Why? Our next generation must have the tools to prepare them for global competition in the 21st century. A skilled labor force pays dividends 100 times over. Moreover, our trading partners are making these very same investments in their students. We cannot risk our leadership in using Information Age tools to increase productivity and develop new services."

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