FEBRUARY 2, 1996
After years of debate, Congress has voted to fundamentally reform the laws governing the broadcast and telephone industries. What will the changes mean? Jeffrey Kaye of station KCET-Los Angeles reports.
JEFFREY KAYE, KCET: The high-tech future promised by the telecommunications industry is a nation and world plugged in, wired up, and interconnected.
SPOKESMAN: Hi, Jack.
MAN: Hey, Randy. How are you doing tonight?
JEFFREY KAYE: Technical advances have made it possible to transmit massive amounts of pictures, sound, and data between homes and businesses, schools and hospitals. The new technology has set off a high stakes, high-speed race by telecommunications companies eager to deliver an array of services.
WOMAN ON PHONE: Good morning. AT&T operator, how can I help you?
MAN ON PHONE: Civic Bell. Can I help you.
JEFFREY KAYE: No longer are phone companies content to offer only telephone services; they see television in their future, and cable TV companies don't want to be restricted to television; they'd like to get into the phone business. Representatives from the cable and phone industries sound virtually interchangeable when talking about their plans. Consider Spencer Kaitz speaking for the TV cable industry and Catherine Bernick from Pacific Telesis, one of the seven regional telephone companies.
KATHRYNE BERNICK, Pacific Telesis: We envision ourselves as being a full service provider of telecommunications to our customers in California and Nevada.
SPENCER KAITZ, California Cable TV Association: We want to be a full service telecommunications company.
KATHRYNE BERNICK: We want to offer plain old telephone service; we want to offer long distance service.
SPENCER KAITZ: We desperately want to get into the phone business. It's the only way to be a full service provider.
KATHRYNE BERNICK: We want to offer video programming over our network, including interactive services, and we want to offer the new wireless services, personal communications services, that the FCC has just licensed.
SPENCER KAITZ: We want to provide both wire and wireless. We want to provide hundreds of channels of video, and we want to connect computers so that they can talk with each other at the same speed that they talk internally.
JEFFREY KAYE: But regional phone companies and cable television operations are not the only ones expecting to benefit from new technology and deregulation. Just as the Bell Companies would like to enter the long distance market, the long distance carriers, Sprint, MCI, and AT&T, are hoping to transform their businesses. Alex Mandl is executive vice president of AT&T.
ALEX MANDL, AT&T: We plan to be one of those end-to-end service providers which will include local service, which will include on-line services, which will include the various cable services that we will not necessarily own but certainly can have part of a package. So we clearly see opportunities in the broadest sense of how customers will, will require these, these services to be delivered.