The Federal Communications Commission yesterday proposed virtual elimination of the current corporate monopoly in international communications.
In another ruling, based on a study requested by Congress, the FCC is proposing rules requiring Communications Satellite Corp. to offer its services not mandated by Congress through a separate, distinct subsidiary.
Comsat executives declined comment on the proposals.
In its attempt to end the monopoly, the FCC proposed allowing firms to deal directly with Comsat without having to go through American Telephone and Telegraph Co. or other international communications firms that now dominate the market.
The FCC also proposed removing all restrictions on the resale and shared use of international telecommunications services.
The rules proposed yesterday wouldn't have a great effect on individual consumers, FCC officials said. But the proposed changes could reduce costs to companies transmitting information overseas. In that way costs could indirectly be held down for consumers.
The rules affect transmission of data, or records, by businesses. Companies involved are those that transmit written words such as Telex messages, computer data and telegrams.
That market now is dominated by AT&T, International Telephone and Telegraph Corp., RCA Global Communications Inc. and Trt Telecommunications Corp.
Some industry analysts indicated yesterday they expect a long legal battle against the proposals by the large international carriers.
The FCC proposals would allow anyone to go directly to Comsat for service rather than the international record carriers.
In removing restrictions on the resale of international telecommunications services, the FCC said its action would "encourage development of the telecommunications market structure in a manner which increases efficiency in the utilization of services and facilities, gives rise to greater consumer choice and more diverse service offerings and causes rates to become more closely aligned with the underlying cost of providing services."
In a separate report to Congress, the FCC called for restructuring Comsat, overhauling its accounting system and adding some form of governmental oversight of the corporation's activities to avoid evading rate regulations. The commission questioned whether the corporation was "optimally" structured to compete in differing markets. The FCC also questioned Comsat's future role.
"The changes we proposed would allow a major new influx of the benefits of competitive force into the industry," Ferris said. "For the first time they would bring Comsat, with its expertise in the satellite field, directly to consumers who move their messages around the world."
"Users would be able to pay a price based entirely on the advantages of satellite communications," Ferris continued. "This would also mean that other carriers will compete knowing that if their prices for the same services are set too high, users can go directly to Comsat."
In its two other rulings yesterday the FCC dealt directly with the Washington-based Comsat, the private corporation formed by Congress in 1963 to provide international satellite services. American communications firms, however, are unable to gain access to the world's satellite network without going through Comsat. Since Comsat in most cases can't offer transmission services directly to the public, consumers must go through the international carriers.