Text Version

August 19, 1997

Separate Statement


Commissioner Susan Ness

Re: Application of Ameritech Michigan Pursuant to Section 271 of the Communications Act of 1934, as Amended, To Provide In-Region, InterLATA Services in Michigan

I look forward to the day when I can cast my vote to approve a petition by a Bell company to offer in-region, interLATA service. When that day comes, the conditions for robust and enduring local competition within a state will have been created, and to the benefits of that competition will be added the introduction of a powerful new competitor in the long distance market and the elimination of a restriction that will have outlived its usefulness.

That time has not yet arrived, despite commendable progress in the State of Michigan. The state commission has been a pioneer in the development and implementation of competition policy. In the new state-federal partnership that is still being forged, Michigan remains a leader. Ameritech, too, deserves recognition for its early commitment to a pro-competitive course. The company has made enormous progress over the past few years, although the immense task of transforming the local telephone network to accommodate efficient competitive entry remains as yet unfinished. Today's decision provides valuable guidance that will help Ameritech to reach its desired goal more expeditiously.

Our decision today is faithful to the statutory scheme established by Congress. Aided by the record developed in the pre-application proceeding conducted by the Michigan commission and the detailed and insightful analysis furnished by the Department of Justice, our staff has conducted a painstaking review of a lengthy record to evaluate Ameritech's compliance with the mandatory elements of the "competitive checklist." The detailed discussion of checklist compliance in our order will enable Ameritech to focus its energies on those tasks that need to be completed before interLATA entry can be approved.

Although not strictly necessary for purposes of today's decision, our order also sets forth our initial views on the additional statutory requirement that Ameritech prove that its entry satisfies the public interest. Again, this guidance should help to pave the way for a successful application in the future. I emphasize, as does the order, that we are not adding to the competitive checklist. Instead, we are merely identifying various pertinent considerations that have the potential to influence, positively or negatively, our overall conclusion as to whether Bell company entry into the interLATA market within a particular state will serve the public interest.

As our decision demonstrates, the Commission intends to apply the statutory scheme rigorously but fairly. This will not be welcome news for any company that might have hoped to secure authority for interLATA entry without really opening its local market to competition -- or that might have hoped to game the process to forestall entry indefinitely. But, for those that really intend to live up to the bargain that is embodied in the Telecommunications Act, today's decision should accelerate fulfillment of both parts of that bargain.