[ Text | Word97 | Chairman Kennard's Testimony ]

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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).

May 26, 1999

News Media contact:
Rosemary Kimball at (202) 418-0500


William E. Kennard, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), in testimony today before the Senate Commerce Committee said that the 1996 Telecom Act was working and has been instrumental in putting into place conditions that allowed the unprecedented economic growth the country enjoys today. He noted that this economic growth is in large part due to the thriving telecommunications industry. He pointed out the FCC's role in this growth, saying, "I am happy to report that over the past 18 months, the FCC – the agency that Congress entrusted to oversee this project – has taken definitive steps to make sure that this growth continues by hastening the transition to a competitive communications marketplace and making sure that it is done in a way that remains true to the intent of the Act."

Kennard pointed to FCC actions that have increased competition and consumer choice in the wireless, multi-channel video and telephone markets.

"The competition," he said, "unleashed in these traditional sectors also brings us closer to another goal of the Act: the deployment of advanced, broadband services to the American people. By making large blocks of spectrum available, by allowing companies to use them for any technically feasible service, and by giving newcomers access to the essential elements of incumbent phone networks, the FCC is setting the stage for a robust competition within and among sectors of the communications industry."

Noting that with convergence comes consolidation, Kennard said, "I understand that in a competitive world many businesses would want to take advantage of efficiencies of scale and acquire properties that complement their core businesses. But any merger must serve the public interest. And a big part of that interest is making sure that competition in telecommunications from local phone service to broadband is not stifled and that consumers are well served. It is this principle that guides me when assessing mergers before the Commission."

"In drafting the Telecom Act," he said, "Congress reached back to values as old as America itself. One of these was choice – the belief that given an array of options, individuals can best decide what is best for them. Another was equality of opportunity – that every American no matter where they live in our vast country should have a chance to live up to their full promise. That is why in addition to fostering competition, we have worked to bring the Internet into our nation's schools and libraries, to craft a universal service scheme that is fair and commonsensical, and to ensure that basic as well as advanced telecommunications services reach families in rural America from farms and small towns to Indian reservations."

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