FCC chair announces plan to end regulated telecommunications

According to a report by Communications Daily, new Federal Communications Commission (fcc--Washington, DC) chairman William Kennard announced that his office will forgo a new partnership with state regulators. The report said that Kennard wants to develop a plan, which he called a "Magna Carta for competition," to end regulated telecommunications.

Karen Graziano

According to a report by Communications Daily, new Federal Communications Commission (fcc--Washington, DC) chairman William Kennard announced that his office will forgo a new partnership with state regulators. The report said that Kennard wants to develop a plan, which he called a "Magna Carta for competition," to end regulated telecommunications.

The plan is one of the first attempts by the federal government to work with states on telecommunications issues, Kennard told Communications Daily. He also said the plan will define issues, allocate responsibilities, and mend the rift between state and federal regulators who clash over who will solve problems.

Kennard added that the local telephone market requires "joint action and close coordination between the states and the federal government." He cited the Telecommunications Act of 1996 as the reason behind these debates and said that the fcc and states struggle with "who gets to solve which piece of the puzzle instead of looking broadly at how all the pieces of the puzzle fit together."

Kennard is working to ally the federal and state governments because he realizes how important information and computers are in our society, the report said. It quoted Kennard as saying, "Whether you live in a bustling metropolitan area, rural area, or distressed inner-city community, communications should give you the same opportunity and the same benefits. We simply cannot allow the information highway to bypass rural America or allow the Information Age to benefit some Americans" more than others.

At the annual meeting of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (naruc--Washington, DC) in early November, Kennard reported that by the year 2000, 60% of jobs will require "facility with computers." He said this fact mandates "writing rules that are clear and understandable, that speak to real people in their daily lives, and solve real problems. It means finding practical solutions to the very difficult problems that we all face."

According to Communications Daily, Kennard told naruc members, "The [Telecom] Act will succeed if you are able to enforce the right rules....It will fail if you don`t. It`s you folks who will set prices for interconnection and network elements....It`s you folks who are on the front lines grappling with difficult problems like [operational support systems]....It`s you who will carry the kind of front-line burden in adjudicating these difficult arbitration proceedings."

Communications Daily says that Kennard`s "Magna Carta" will include a plan for state and federal regulators to resolve issues including interconnection, unbundled network elements, pricing, nonrecurring charges, implicit subsidies, and enforcement of interconnection agreements.

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