August 1, 1996

Press Statement
Commissioner Susan Ness

Re: Interconnection Report and Order

Today we are fulfilling one of the most important responsibilities assigned to us by the Telecommunications Act of 1996 -- writing the rules that will achieve the vision of fair and robust competition in all telecommunications markets. We are doing so with utmost fidelity to the letter and the spirit of the statute.

We are striking a careful balance between competing values of uniformity and flexibility. We are prescribing the rules that are necessary to ensure that competition has an opportunity to develop, but, consistent with the statute, we have left significant responsibilities to the states. The vanguard states remain free to continue their procompetitive course, just as Congress intended. Other states are being given the tools to accelerate their progress.

The process of introducing competition where monopoly now reigns can be likened to a relay race. The first leg was run by Congress, the second by the FCC, the third by the states, and the fourth by the market. But the ultimate winners will be American consumers.

There are bound to be unexpected consequences, and bumps in the road, and efforts to game the process. We will need to be vigilant, to ensure continued progress.

Competition will take time to emerge. It won't come easy. It will take a lot of work -- by everyone involved. The FCC will not shrink from taking the steps necessary to reach the legislative goal.