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Opening Statement of Commissioner Gloria Tristani
Spectrum En Banc
April 6, 1999

I'd first like to thank all of our panelists for sharing their time and expertise. I know some of you have gone to great lengths to be here today.

And I appreciate Commissioner Susan Ness's foresight in calling for, and then planning, this en banc.

This is a rare opportunity. It is an opportunity to take a step back and consider the broader implications of the decisions we make on a daily basis -- to follow, or diverge from, allocations pursued internationally; to segment one particular band, and to impose sharing on another; to adopt more flexible, or more stringent, technical rules. Each of these decisions is a marker charting us on a course of what we hope is effective and efficient spectrum management. So I look forward to the insights that you can lend.

Our starting point is Section 1 of the Communications Act. Section 1 reminds us that our core function here is to make available, to all Americans, a rapid, efficient, and world-wide wire and radio communications service. In recent years, before I arrived here, the Commission committed itself to a largely market-based approach in the management of the spectrum. Auctions have helped us to quickly and efficiently get the spectrum in the hands of those who will provide services that the public desires. And flexible technical and service rules have freed service providers to determine how best to meet their customers' needs. This market-based approach clearly has benefitted the American consumer.

However, I remain concerned that some needs may go unmet. I am particularly eager to hear any thoughts on these subjects. For example, recently my fellow commissioners and I attended hearings in New Mexico and Arizona on the dearth of telephone service on Indian reservations. I would ask whether there are policies or principles we might incorporate to promote service to unserved areas? Another example: public safety services are a "public good" that may be underproduced by market forces. How can we ensure that we provide sufficient spectrum for these critical services?

With these questions raised, I'm delighted to sit back and listen.