Claiming that the merger of the Bell Atlantic phone company with the cable giant TCI will lead to more, not less, competition, Ray Smith, chairman and CEO of Bell Atlantic Corp., endorsed the premise that the merger “has done more to speed up investment in infrastructure than the last 10 years of government policies.”

Smith, delivering the keynote speech at an all-day Broadcasting & Cable Magazine-sponsored seminar at the Waldorf Thursday, assured an audience of industry executives that Bell Atlantic has no intention of “squelching the development of a diverse and robust information marketplace … The future belongs to open, not closed systems.”

Bob Wright, president of NBC, took up Smith’s philosophy, saying that only “utility-oriented companies” like Bell Atlantic could afford the “astronomical” costs of building the information superhighway.

Five “killer applications” will drive viewer demand for the new multimedia services, Smith said:

  • Movies and TV programs on demand, with full VCR capability.

  • Elaborate forms of home shopping, including cars.

  • State-run lotteries that could turn homes into gambling dens.

  • “Direct-mail/direct-response advertising” that would permit viewers use coupons in home shopping.

  • “Society-transforming applications like tele-medicine, tele-learning and tele-commuting.”
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