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OCTOBER 14, 1998

(As Prepared For Delivery)

I would like to thank everyone for attending today. Each of your contributions to this advisory committee is essential to the success of NRIC IV, and I applaud your commitment to this very important activity.

Few things before the Year 2000 Problem have so clearly revealed the vulnerabilities of living in the so-called Digital Information Age. And few events have demonstrated so clearly the interconnectivity and interdependency of the communications industry. The Year 2000 challenge that faces each of us cannot be met in a vacuum. Few, if any, communications companies can provide service without being able to connect with another network, a satellite operator, or a wireless provider. And no one can speak of the readiness of the communications industry to meet the challenge without looking at all of the players involved.

That is why the Network Reliability and Interoperability Council is so important to the work of the Commission. It will provide an opportunity for a broad array of players, including manufacturers, users, and others in the industry, to work with the Commission in developing industry-wide assessments, to coordinate testing and look for ways to share results, and to develop interconnecting contingency plans.

A main goal of the FCC's approach to the Year 2000 Problem has been to develop public-private partnerships that will promote information sharing, avoid duplication of effort, and establish networks for dealing with contingencies. Many of these partnerships already exist. Take, for example, the discussions between testing groups such as the Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solution (ATIS) and the Telco Year 2000 Forum, and major industry representatives, to negotiate smart testing and observer status testing. And the Telecommunications Sector Group of the President's Council on Year 2000 Conversion, which I co-chair, brings to the table both government and private industry to share information and formulate solutions.

Similarly, NRIC IV will build even more partnerships. The membership represented here today includes not only the telephone companies, but wireless companies, cable and satellite companies, consumers, standards and research groups, state representatives and many more trade associations. It is the particular expertise that each member brings to the Council, and the commitment to work together that makes this partnership so important.

Only through information sharing and a communal approach to this problem can we achieve the mission, and that is to minimize the disruption that could occur at the turn of the millennium. The mission includes outreach, assessment and planning for the foreseen and the unforeseen. Your work in this regard will be invaluable.

I want to thank Michael Armstrong of AT&T for leading this project, and John Pasqua of AT&T and Dr. Judith List of Bellcore for their stewardship.

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