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---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: 3 Sep 1998 21:18:00 -0000
From: Neil Lehto <[log in to unmask]>
To: Municipal Cable TV & Telecommunications News <[log in to unmask]>
Subject: Advanced Digital Services Proceedings 

URGENT ACTION ALERT


NOTIFY FCC OF YOUR COMMUNITY'S NEED FOR
DIGITAL TELECOMMUNICATIONS SERVICES

COMMENTS DUE            Monday, September 14, 1998
REPLY COMMENTS DUE      Thursday, October 8, 1998

Unless the agency hears from you about the necessity for policies to
promote construction of high-speed digital networks in every community,
yours may not gain access for many years, if ever.  The Alliance for
Public Technology (APT) is urging consumers and non-profit organizations

serving the social service needs of senior citizens, people with
disabilities, low income families, and rural residents, as well as small

business representatives and consumers to inform the Federal
Communications Commission of your need for advanced telecommunications
services.  If widely available and affordable, such services can help to

improve everyone's quality of life by:
 Expanding life-long learning opportunities;
 Increasing job training and placement resources;
 Facilitating independent living and economic opportunities for
people    with disabilities;
 Building entrepreneurial skills and small business opportunities; and
 Minimizing isolation for seniors and rural residents.

The FCC has just begun evaluating whether telephone, cable, broadcast
and wireless companies, all of which can deliver some advanced digital
services such as high-speed Internet access, are deploying these
services equitably and in the "reasonable and timely fashion" that
Section 706 of the 1996 Telecommunications Act requires.  As
telecommunications markets become more competitive, service providers
will likely continue favoring large businesses and other affluent
customers.  Consequently, ordinary residential and rural consumers,
particularly members of underserved communities, may not obtain access
to the advanced services that Congress promised "all Americans" if the
FCC does not enact policies that support the Act's principle of
"advanced universal service."

APT is a non-profit consumer organization that has consistently
advocated that all people of the U.S., regardless of race, income, place

of residence or functional limitation, have affordable access to
telecommunications technology.  In a petition to the FCC, APT has
suggested that the Commission foster partnerships between
community-based organizations, which pool their demand for services, and

telecommunications providers to develop technology applications that can

serve the critical needs of traditionally underserved communities.  APT
believes that these partnerships and the resulting "aggregated demand"
can help to make these markets sufficiently attractive to "pull"
infrastructure investment there.

WHAT CAN YOU DO?  Notify the FCC of your concerns about the lack of
advanced services in your community and express your support for APT's
partnership recommendation.  Please send an original and 4 copies of
comments referencing

CC Docket No. 98-146 before the above deadlines to: Ms. Magalie Roman
Salas, Secretary, Office of the Secretary, Room 222, 1919 M Street,
N.W., Washington, DC 20554.  Alternatively, you may file electronic
comments through the  Internet by following the instructions at
<http://www/fcc/gov/e-file/ecfs.html>. The Commission is also accepting
e-mail comments and asks commenters to send a message to <[log in to unmask]>
with the message "get form <your e-mail address> to obtain a sample form

and directions in reply.  You may also endorse APT's comments in the
reply comment cycle, which ends on October 8, 1998.  APT will post its
comments on its website at <http://www.apt.org> not later than Tuesday,
September 15, 1998.  You will also find at the site, the Alliance's
original petition, as well as a more detailed version of this alert and
other policy statements by APT.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

On August 6, 1998, the FCC initiated two proceedings to implement
Section 706 of the 1996 Telecommunications Act.  That provision
obligates the FCC and state telecommunications regulators to encourage
"reasonable and timely" deployment to all Americans of advanced
telecommunications capability.  Such capability permits high speed, high

quality two-way voice, data, video, graphics and voice transmissions
using any technology. To ensure nationwide availability of digital
broadband networks, Section 706 authorizes regulators to use certain
measures and requires the FCC to conduct an inquiry into the progress of

deployment of advanced technologies to every American.  The Commission
must also take "immediate action to accelerate deployment" if it
determines that progress toward that goal is unsatisfactory.

First, the FCC began the statutory inquiry in CC Docket No. 98-146 with
a notice that asks numerous questions about the current availability of
advanced telecommunications services.  The notice of inquiry (NOI) also
requests suggestions about ways that the agency can spur deployment if
necessary.  Second, the Commission proposed in CC Docket No. 98-147
amending some of its rules to allow incumbent local telephone companies
(ILECs) to offer advanced telecommunications services through an
unregulated separate subsidiary.  ILECs that choose to offer advanced
services on an integrated basis with voice service would remain subject
to rules to promote competition in local telephone markets.

APT filed a petition on February 18, 1998, urging the FCC to undertake
simultaneous inquiry and rulemaking proceedings. The petition, suggests
specific measures for removing barriers to advanced network investment
and for affirmatively stimulating such investment.  APT believes that
its proactive recommendations are a necessary corollary to easing
certain regulatory restrictions that discourage ILECs and new entrants
from building new sophisticated network facilities.  In paragraphs 71
and 72 of its NOI, which can be found at http://www.fcc.gov/ccb/706/,
the FCC solicits comments on APT's recommendations that the agency: 1)
use social contracts with ILECs to promote investment in advanced
networks for underserved areas; 2) condition telecommunications merger
approval on requirement that the merged company deploy infrastructure to

residential and other less attractive markets; and 3) establish a
federal-state policy framework that encourages community-based
organizations and telecommunications providers to create partnerships in

which they identify technology applications serving the life needs of
underserved residents and through the organizations' aggregated demand
attract digital infrastructure investment.

The Alliance represents almost 300 grassroots and national public
interest organizations and individuals.  APT's members serve the needs
of senior citizens, disabled persons, minorities, women and small
businesses in a number of areas, including, education, health care,
civic service and economic development. We need your support now to help

the FCC understand how competition, without countervailing government
policy to ensure universal access to advanced telecommunications
services, will force millions of people into the ranks of the
"information poor."


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