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October 21, 1999

Separate Statement of
Commissioner Gloria Tristani

Re: Federal-State Joint Board on Universal Service; Ninth Report & Order and Seventeenth Order on Reconsideration. CC Docket No. 96-45

Federal-State Joint Board on Universal Service; Forward-Looking Mechanism for High Cost Support for Non-Rural LECs. CC Docket Nos. 96-45 & 97-160. .

In adopting these Orders, the Commission has taken an important step towards fulfilling its mandate under the 1996 Act to ensure that all Americans have access to telecommunications and information services. The new high-cost mechanism, together with the selected inputs, establishes a specific, predictable, and sufficient mechanism to preserve and advance universal service. I believe that the mechanism will provide sufficient resources to the states to ensure reasonable comparability of rates among states. Moreover, I am pleased that the Commission will be ready to provide forward-looking support to non-rural carriers based on this mechanism, effective January 1, 1999.

I commend my fellow Joint Board members, the Joint Board staff, and the Common Carrier Bureau for their outstanding cooperation in developing the model and model inputs. I likewise commend the outside parties who worked with the Joint Board and the Bureau throughout this process. I look forward to continued cooperation as we confront the other pieces of universal service reform, including adjusting interstate access charges to account for explicit support, selecting an appropriate methodology for rural carriers serving high cost areas, and addressing the needs of unserved and underserved areas.