Open Meeting December 18, 1997
The guidance these rules provide will serve the public and the Commission alike by easing, and speeding, the auctions rulemaking process.
I wish to note a vital issue that remains. Today we affirm our commitment to eliminate barriers to entry and to ensure that minorities and women have the opportunity to participate in the provision of spectrum-based services. Under Section 257, we have already initiated several studies in the broadcast area, and we will soon initiate a study concerning participation and barriers to entry in the auctions context.
To date, minority and women-owned businesses have benefitted from the small business provisions we have offered - - installment payments, bidding credits and entrepreneurs blocks. Thus, of the more than four thousand licenses awarded by auction, approximately 11 percent have been awarded to minority-owned businesses and 11 percent to women -owned businesses. However, in light of our decision today to suspend use of installment payments for the foreseeable future, we must pay attention to the unique obstacles facing minorities and women as they seek to participate in the telecommunications revolution. In the further notice, we seek comment on these obstacles and on what remedies we might offer to facilitate widespread participation. I will be especially interested in the comments and proposals we receive to fulfill our statutory obligations.