Entente Cordiale Masks Telecom Trade Tensions

PARIS (01/28/2000) - The French and U.S. telecommunications regulators congratulated each another here today on the success of their efforts to create a global, free market for telecom services -- but behind the smiles, concerns over the protection of national interests are still lurking.

Jean-Michel Hubert, president of the Autorité de Régulation des Télécommunications (ART), the French telecommunications regulatory body, and William Kennard, president of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC), were both speaking at a conference organized by ART, entitled "Internet and Telecommunications: The Stakes."

During the formal speeches, Hubert and Kennard were full of praise for the approaches taken by one another's countries to the opening up of their respective telecom markets to competition.

But behind the scenes, all may not be as rosy.

"It's not enough to say you have issued lots of licenses for competition. You have to create the conditions for them to succeed," said Kennard, in response to Hubert's boast that there were already 80 licensed operators in France, speaking to journalists during a pause in proceedings And asked in what ways the US could do more to open up its telecom market to competition, Hubert suggested that competition from domestic operators was all very well, but, "I would like French and other European businesses to be able to set up successfully and profitably in the U.S. too."

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