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West, Oracle plan ‘highway’

U.S. West Inc. and Oracle Corp. announced Tuesday they have teamed up to build an information superhighway to the home. This is just the latest regional Bell company to announce it is bringing voice, text and images to customers’ doors.

Rather than announce a cable partner, the Denver-based telco this time is bringing aboard Oracle, the largest maker of database management software. Databases are typically enormous computer files filled with lists of names or numbers.

Oracle would use its ability to create and sort through these files, no matter the content, including motion pictures, and be able to direct it to the proper home.

“Our goal is to let our customers get access to information around the world, anytime, any place,” said Charles Lillis, U.S. West exec VP. “To do that, Oracle and U.S. West are agreeing to develop a software engine to create, effectively and quickly, multimedia applications that work on the current system.”

The first site for the partners will be Omaha, Neb., where in April a network of copper wire, coaxial and fiber optic cable will carry voice, image and data.

Deal has been in the works for almost a year, the companies said.

U.S. West, the fifth-largest telco, now joins the other six Regional Bell Operating Companies, or RBOCs, in their quest to compete with cable operators in bringing movies and other services to their customers. In July 1992, RBOCs were permitted by the Federal Communications Commission to deliver a so-called “video dial tone,” bringing video to its customers.

This pits the RBOCs against the cable industry, led by Tele-Communications Inc. and Time Warner Inc., which promises to deliver telephone services to many of their 24 million subscribers in the next two to three years.

Some recent telco announcements include:

o BellSouth Corp., is joining with GTE Corp. and Sprint Corp. to install a similar system in its territory, which covers the southeastern U.S. The first site will be North Carolina.

o Bell Atlantic Corp. is forming a partnership with a new cable company, Future-Vision of America Corp., in New Jersey to offer programming over its lines to telephone customers.

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