Robert Kuttner's point was well taken in describing the implementation of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 as complex ("Don't let the Baby Bells stall competition," Economic Viewpoint, Mar. 31). In order to ease the transition process to a competitive local marketplace, Congress included in the act a 14-point competition checklist that dictates the specific requirements the Bell companies must comply with to establish a level playing field for competing companies.

The checklist outlines the essential elements needed for competitors to provide local telephone service in a manner that will improve quality of service, expand customer options, and drive down prices. Once the Bell companies have taken the steps mandated by Congress, the doors will be opened, allowing more options for residential and business consumers in local telephone service throughout the U.S.

While the road to competition may not be a straight course, the checklist provides a simple path to follow, and a place from which to start. The process does not need to be complex; the onus is on the Baby Bells to comply with the checklist that Congress has so clearly laid out.

Mark Phigler

President

Americans for Competitive Telecommunications

Walnut Creek, Calif.

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