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June 8, 2000

Separate Statement of
Commissioner Susan Ness

Re: Federal-State Joint Board on Universal Service; Promoting Deployment and Subscribership in Unserved and Underserved Areas, Including Tribal and Insular Areas (CC Docket No. 96-45); Extending Wireless Telecommunications Services to Tribal Lands (WT Docket No. 99-266)

I support the actions we take today to expand access to basic telephone services for a segment of the population that has one of the lowest penetration rates in the United States. In a world that is moving towards broadband communications, we must remember that many Americans still lack basic services. The steps we take today for tribal and Alaska Native lands are long overdue. I am also pleased that the Commission has taken steps to encourage the deployment of wireless services, because terrestrial and satellite wireless services may prove critical to getting basic and advanced telecommunications services to tribal lands and other remote areas. I would urge the Commission to continue its efforts to increase telephone subscribership throughout the country, particularly in rural and insular areas; when more of us are connected, all of us benefit.