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TELECOMMUNICATIONS | NATION/WORLD

FCC Might Miss Deadline on Rate Plan

March 13, 1997|Times Staff and Wire Reports

The Federal Communications Commission might fail to meet a congressional deadline for implementing a final plan aimed at keeping local phone rates affordable, the nation's top telephone regulator said. "I am increasingly concerned whether a workable, reliable model will emerge in time for our decision on May 8 or whether we need an interim step in our implementation timetable," FCC Chairman Reed Hundt testified at a Senate Commerce Committee hearing. The model Hundt referred to would determine how much money large phone companies need to keep local service affordable for customers who live in high-cost areas. Phone companies have given the FCC a wide range of estimates on what it would cost to do this--from $6 billion to $27 billion. "I am absolutely concerned about the tremendous disparity in the models presented by the different industry sectors," Hundt said. The FCC doesn't have the resources to conduct its own research and must rely on company submissions, he said. Agency attorneys said the FCC is shooting for an interim plan to give it more time to collect and analyze information.

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