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Commissioner Copps Statement on FCC Item Seeking to Lower Phone Bills for Americans Through Additional Deregulation of International Telephony Market.

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Released: May 13, 2011

STATEMENT OF

COMMISSIONER MICHAEL J. COPPS

Re:
International Settlements Policy Reform; Joint Petition for Rulemaking of AT&T Inc.,
Sprint Nextel Corporation and Verizon; Modifying the Commission's Process to Avert
Harm to U.S. Competition and U.S. Customers Caused by Anticompetitive Conduct;
Petition of AT&T for Settlements Stop Payment Order on the U.S.-Tonga Route
, IB
Docket No. 11-[

XX

]
I am pleased that the two items before us today recognize and act upon the
substantial changes that have occurred in international communications over the last 20
years and which continue even as we meet today. It is important that FCC policies
always evolve to stay on top of this rapidly changing global communications world. I
believe that Commission policies over the past two decades have been an undeniable
success--providing certainty and protection for American companies and lower rates for
American consumers. In those instances where we saw conditions that allowed foreign
carriers to abuse their market relationship with U.S. carriers the Commission has
generally delivered relief in ways that have been both wise and sound.
We need to remain vigilant in this space. It is only through good information,
constant oversight and prompt response that we will avoid further problems in this
arena. So I am pleased that we will be assessing our procedures and safeguards in a
manner that will be capable of addressing anticompetitive behavior by foreign carriers in
an expeditious way while also getting rid of some outdated regulations regarding
international traffic. We know that in the last decade the number of U.S. billed
international calls has increased 220 percent and that more than 70 billion minutes were
recorded in 2009. While this increase has had a significant impact on settlement rates,
we need to continue looking at the data to ensure that these savings are passed on to
consumers. It's also important that we are revisiting our finding in the 2004 ISP Reform
Order that blockage or disruption directly harms the public interest. Since that time the
routing has grown more intricate and complex. I'm glad that we are examining these
changes and teeing up questions as to what extent partial circuit blockages constitute
anticompetitive behavior.
We are also moving forward to modify the data reporting requirements for
international carriers to be more in sync with the reality of today's markets and to better
respond to the needs of the Commission as we seek to promote competition and the
benefits of international communications to American consumers.
Although technology and markets change, our fundamental regulatory
responsibilities remain constant. I want to thank the Chairman and the International
Bureau for their efforts on this issue and for their continuing vigilance to protect
American consumers and our enterprises through workable, fair and efficient rules and
policies in the global marketplace.


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