The Making of Energy and Telecommunications Policy

By Georgia A. Persons | Go to book overview

specifically provide for (1) a basic telecommunications service package made universally available at a reasonable cost to all income levels; (2) uniform average intrastate and interstate rates, with the disparity between the two eliminated; (3) special reduced-rate concessions for nonprofit groups, especially voluntary, consumer, public interest, and educational organizations; (4) healthy competition in the sale of communications equipment to all telephone companies, equipment vendors, and consumers; (5) consumer choice concerning the purchase or rental of terminal equipment from either equipment vendors or telephone companies; (6) elimination of "protective umbrellas" or artificially pegged rates to protect individual companies from competition; (7) equal application among all telecommunications carriers of service limitations, cost allocations, price structures, and an accounting system; and (8) preservation of the quality and integrity of the telephone network through the establishment of itnerconnection regulations while furthering competitive services and equipment in all monopoly communications sectors. 28

The CFA's rationale for its argument regarding special reduced rates for satellite telecommunications was that this technology was produced by public subsidies via governmental appropriations in the form of research and development expenditures. It was not enough, CFA argued, to turn these technologies over to private vendors and declare them available to the public. The CFA also made a poignant point about the participation of consumer groups in the hearings in relationship to their stake in the making of telecommunications policy. The CFA Congress to consider making available funds to consumer and public interest organizations to cover their travel and other essential costs incurred in participating in policy proceedings. The point of this argument was that consumer groups generally did not have available to them the arsenal of legal and other expert resources which industry groups could call on in pressing their positions. 29 Perhaps the significance of the CFA's participation in these exploratory hearings, in which the major debate was being structured, was that consumer interests had been articulated in a more expansive manner by an organization with an impressive identity and profile and a relatively strong presence in national policymaking arenas. The CFA proposal was as much procompetition as it was pro-consumer. The CFA had not made an explicit call or argument in support of lifeline rates as a means of protecting the interests of low-income consumers.


NOTES
1
U.S. Congress. House. Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce. Subcommittee on Communications. Communications Act of 1934, Section 214: Legislative Background. 96th Cong., 1st sess., April 1979. Committee Print 96- IFC 18.
2
This background section on changes in the telecommunications industry due to technology and administrative rulings draws on several sources. See U.S. Congress. House. Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce. Subcommittee on Communications. Competition in the Telecommunications Industry: Hearings: Exploring the Subject of Competition in the Domestic Communications Common Carrier Industry

-106-

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