Telecom execs meet with federal commission

Topics such as interoperability between carriers and the use of wireless networks were among key issues discussed at a gathering featuring the telecommunications industry's top executives and the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

The FCC's incoming Network Reliability and Interoperability Council (NRIC) met for the first time to sketch out issues on which it will advise the FCC over the next two years.

New NRIC Chairman James Crowe, who is president and CEO of Level 3 Communications, staked out interoperability between traditional and emerging networks the most pressing issue facing the group.

"When you talk about the network reliability of a single carrier, that is a measure of that individual carrier's ability to provide service," Crowe said.

"But what does that term mean when you are spanning all networks, some circuit-switched, some packet-switched?" he asked.

Crowe said that along with setting early criteria necessary to measure network reliability, the NRIC will strive to begin developing interoperability standards.

The FCC earlier this month tapped Crowe to head up this, its fifth, interoperability group, dubbed NRIC V.

AT&T CEO Michael Armstrong headed up the previous group (NRIC IV), which spent much of its time focused on readying the nation's telecom infrastructure for the year-2000 rollover.

FCC Chairman Michael Powell urged NRIC V to take seriously its potential impact on FCC networking policy.

"By far one of the most difficult issues now facing the commission is the amorphous issues surrounding interconnections between networks," Powell said.

NRIC V officers said the group will be broken down into subgroups to examine, among other things, the interoperability between wireline and wireless networks.

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