WASHINGTON-In his agenda for 1997, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Reed Hundt reiterated his commitment to deregulate telecommunications and to push competition in the marketplace for all communications players.

Hundt also had to admit something of a defeat by setting dates for the commission’s controversial move from its 1919 M St., address to new digs in the more expensive, more inconvenient Portals II complex on the other side of Washington, D.C.

“The Telecommunications Act of 1996 and the Communications Act of 1934 together state our charter,” he noted. “Congress said it sought to establish a `procompetitive, deregulatory’ national policy framework for communications. Procompetitive, deregulatory-that is our mantra as we try to wake all markets from the slumber of monopoly and retail price regulation.”

Some of Hundt’s “major efforts” to facilitate that mantra next year include:

Removing economic barriers to competition by reforming access charges and universal service, and by assuring that new entrants can obtain fair prices when they buy, lease or connect to an incumbent’s network.

Removing operational barriers by completing work on number portability and access to poles, conduits and rights of way.

Removing barriers to high-bandwidth technology.

Reforming spectrum policy to be even more market-driven by opening entry, and increasing technical and service flexibility.

Making sure the needs of the public-service community are met.

Developing legislation to allow more flexibility for unlicensed spectrum, streamlining experimental authorization for spectrum use and removing barriers that thwart the use of smart antennas.

Hundt also vowed to continue to streamline the commission itself, most notably by moving all divisions of the FCC, now located in eight office buildings, into one facility in November. The cost of such a move has been a sticking point, with Congress choosing not to earmark such funds during budget hearings.

The FCC reportedly has received a $26 million loan from the General Services Administration, although a total of $40 million and eight months will be needed before the headquarters consolidation can be completed.

The chairman was not the only FCC official seeking to promote new communications deployment.

Wireless Telecommunications Bureau Chief Michele Farquhar and her Deputy Rosalind Allen recently asked wireless industry principals for suggestions on how the commission could better promote wireless network buildouts. Responding to the request, Personal Communications Industry Association President Jay Kitchen asked that the commission “expedite decisions on several specific petitions currently pending relating to the deployment of wireless facilities and state and local authority for taxing or otherwise erecting market-entry barriers for wireless communications.”

Kitchen also “encouraged the FCC to continue to broaden the educational information available to individuals and organizations that have a interest in or could be affected by” such site-development barriers.


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