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
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