Clinton clan to submit telco-cable legislation

Sensing a void in U.S. telecommunications policy, the Clinton administration is planning to submit its own “information superhighway” legislation to Congress.

“We want to create a stable regulatory environment that won’t be changing every time there’s a new court decision,” said a White House source.

The bill will be submitted early in 1994, with an “explicit goal” of gaining congressional passage by year end, according to the source.

Vice President Al Gore announced at a technology summit in the S.F. Bay Area last week that the administration envisions passage of “comprehensive telecommunications policy legislation.”

The White House bill is expected to include a provision that repeals a 1984 law barring telephone companies from competing head-to-head with cable operators. A federal court in Alexandria, Va., recently struck down the 1984 law , but the decision is applicable only in Bell-Atlantic’s seven-state region.

A similar telco-into-cable proposal has been offered as part of sweeping infrastructure legislation introduced by Sens. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) and John Danforth (R-Mo.). Thus far the Inouye/Danforth bill, which would also encourage cable TV provision of telephone service, has gathered little steam.

In the House of Representatives, Reps. John Dingell (D-Mich.) and Jack Brooks (D-Texas) are expected to soon introduce a bill that would repeal the ban against regional Bell operating companies offering long-distance service. The bill is expected to encourage competition in the provision of local telephone service.

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