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Federal Communications Commission
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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).

December 31, 1998


Re: Policy and Rules Concerning the Interstate Interexchange Marketplace; Implementation of Section 254(g) of the Communications Act of 1934, as Amended; Petitions for Forbearance (CC Docket No. 96-61), Memorandum Opinion and Order

I cannot support this decision to deny reconsideration and forbearance. While the goals of Section 254(g) of the Communications Act may be laudable and uncontroverted as they relate to nationwide, traditional, interstate interexchange carriers that were clearly subject to the Commission's policy prior to being incorporated into the 1996 Telecom Act, I believe that there are substantial questions as to whether Congress actually intended to expand the rate integration policy to Commercial Mobile Radio Service (CMRS) providers. I do not think that CMRS carriers have had fair notice and the ability to adequately address such issues. I also question whether Section 254(g) should be enforced against the CMRS industry, the most competitive segment of the telecommunications industry. And, I believe the requests for forbearance are not being taken as seriously as Section 10 of the Act requires. This Order, in my mind, simply summarily denies such requests and shifts to the proponents of forbearance an impossible burden.

Although I disagree with the analysis, or lack thereof, in this Order, I am pleased to see that some regulatory restraint is shown by continuing the earlier stay, limiting enforcement of 254(g) to inter-MTA, separately-billed toll calls and announcing the intent to issue a Further Notice seeking comment on specific issues relating to the application of rate integration requirements to CMRS providers.

I fear, however, that our failure to forbear from all enforcement of this provision will negatively impact consumers. I anticipate that CMRS carriers will just avoid the rate integration rule in ways that may end up having a perverse effect of harming consumers living in rural, insular and offshore areas by, for example, ceasing to bill separately for long distance or raising local rates to subsidize the integrated long distance rates.

Accordingly, I will issue a separate statement dissenting from this Order.

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