SAN FRANCISCO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--April 10, 1995--According to a nationwide survey released today, state telecommunications regulators and experts are optimistic about increasing deregulation of the telecommunications industry, pessimistic about ratepayer fears of rising rates, and certain that greater competition will force state commissions toward consumer advocacy rather than ratemaking

The survey, `Changing Telecommunications Regulation -- the Emerging State Agenda,` found strong support among state regulators and telecommunications experts from academic institutions for both deregulatory policies and a continued strong role for state regulatory commissions. The survey was conducted by Kearns & West, a public affairs firm, with Stanley W. Hulett, former president of the California Public Utilities Commission.

`This survey reflects the views of those intimately involved with telecommunications regulation -- those `outside the beltway,'` said Paul Fadelli of Kearns & West. `As Congress shifts more responsibilities to the states and cuts regulation, local views on how to regulate telecommunications become increasingly important -- especially as states, like California, begin debating how to restructure their regulatory commissions.`

Most survey respondents see greater deregulation of the telecommunications industry resulting in significant shifts in the roles of state regulatory commissions. These changes include: -0- -- decreasing oversight of rate regulation; -- increasing consumer protection activities (involving such things as fraud, privacy, and competitive entry); -- providing greater educational assistance for ratepayers in a more competitive telecommunications environment; and -- designing and implementing their own `universal service` program to meet unique regional needs. -0-

While respondents were mixed about the necessity of passing federal legislation to advance national telecommunications goals, they were clearly in agreement that broad federal guidelines outlining `universal service` could assist individual state actions aimed at guaranteeing continuation of the program.

Other survey highlights include: -0- - FACTORS SHAPING TELECOMMUNICATIONS POLICY --

Respondents overwhelmingly believe that both national and state telecommunications policy is being driven primarily by two factors: changes in technology (63%) (especially wireless and computers) and greater competition (60%). - FUTURE REGULATORY STRUCTURE --

Fifty-one percent support dramatically less regulation. Yet, a greater percentage (57%) support continued state regulatory rate oversight during the transition to greater competition and beyond. - ROLE FOR STATE REGULATORS --

Respondents (60%) said that deregulation will result in state regulatory commissions needing to focus more on consumer issues, instead of maintaining the historical role as rate regulators. - RATEPAYER CONCERNS --

The majority of regulators and experts (54%) responded that the new telecommunications environment will cause ratepayers to be most concerned with rising rates and how those rates are determined (51%). - ROLE OF ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT --

Thirty-one percent said economic development goals should be considered when determining telecommunications regulation policy, but should not lead discussions. - UNIVERSAL SERVICE --

There was strong support for universal service. Forty percent believe the federal government should set goals and the states should implement the programs. Forty-six percent agree that all telecommunications providers should help finance the program. - FEDERAL LEGISLATION --

Only thirty-one percent specifically said that federal legislation is needed to move the telecommunications marketplace forward in this country. Forty-three percent believe that the battle between the Regional Bell Operating Companies (RBOCs) and the long-distance providers was the pivotal conflict which stalled major telecommunications legislation in the 103rd Congress. -0-

The survey included state regulators from 20 states and telecommunications experts from 12 academic institutions and think tanks.

For copies of `Changing Telecommunications Regulation -- the Emerging State Agenda` call Kearns & West at 415/391-7900; or write to 235 Pine Street, San Francisco, CA 94104.

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CONTACT: Kearns & West Paul Fadelli, 415/391-7900

KEYWORD: CALIFORNIA

INDUSTRY KEYWORD: TELECOMMUNICATIONS REPEATS: New York 212-575-8822 or 800-221-2462; Boston 617-330-5311 or 800-225-2030; SF 415-986-4422 or 800-227-0845; LA 310-820-9473

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