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Federal Communications Commission
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Washington, D.C. 20554
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Internet: http://www.fcc.gov

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 13, 1998


At a lunch meeting hosted today by "The Precursor Group" of the securities brokerage firm Legg Mason, Inc., FCC Commissioner Michael Powell urged an audience of investment analysts, policymakers, and industry representatives, to "keep a watchful eye on communications developments in an effort to predict whether proposed [communications] reforms will be implemented and whether they will be successful."

Quoting Albert Einstein, Powell said, "The unleashed power of the atom has changed everything save our modes of thinking and we thus drift toward unparalleled catastrophe." Reflecting on where is the country in the communications revolution, Powell remarked "I often think of Einstein's warning," and questioned whether the industry is "truly changing enough, and quickly enough to accommodate" the transformation to a pro-competitive, de- regulatory communications regime.

Powell set forth several tenets of "new regulatory thinking" that should guide policy leaders in light of the pro-competitive, de-regulatory environment and the immense power and potential of communications technology unleashed:

  1. Faith in competition, and courage to cede control to the marketplace;
  2. Focus on innovation when dealing with network industries that are driven by technology;
  3. Prepare for the regulatory implosion of traditionally distinct technologies and services;
  4. Strive for regulatory efficiency. In this regard, regulatory agencies must make timely decisions, be sensitive to business realities and capital markets, and shift their efforts to enforcement.
Powell's remarks were featured as part of Legg Mason's Spring Investor Workshop. The theme of the lunch forum was "Technology and Regulation."

"Full emancipation has not yet come to the information and communications industries, because we have not fully changed our mode of regulatory thinking," Powell stated. "The digital explosion will ultimately demolish the byzantine regulatory edifice that communications regulators have constructed over the past several decades. The choice is whether to implode the existing regulatory structure in a controlled manner, by strategically undermining its foundations, . . . or whether to resist foolishly the force of change and allow the regulatory structure to . . . crumble[] under the weight of its own inconsistencies."

Commissioner Powell's speech can be downloaded from his internet site at http://www.fcc.gov/commissioners/powell/ on the World Wide Web.

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