Telcos opposed to bill letting them offer cable

Telephone companies are opposing sweeping legislation offered this week by Sens. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) and John Danforth (R-Mo.) that contains a provision allowing telcos to offer cable TV service in their local service area.

Ed Senn, executive director of legislative affairs with Nynex, called the bill a “step in the right direction, but not something we can support.”

Nynex is one of the seven regional Bell operating companies formed after the breakup of Ma Bell. One of the reasons the RBOCs will not be supporting the Inouye-Danforth bill is because the measure forbids them from entering the long-distance phone market, Senn said.

Senn said his firm also opposes a requirement in the bill that would force telephone service carriers to provide access to their networks on a non-discriminatory basis.

The U.S. Telephone Assn. also will oppose the legislation, according to USTA prez John Sodolski. However, Sodolski praised Inouye and Danforth’s provision lifting the telco-into-cable ban. The bill also would allow cable operators to provide local telephone service.

Telcos are barred from providing cable in their local region under a 1984 law. That provision would be jettisoned by the Inouye-Danforth bill. However, telcos would continue to be prohibited from buying out an existing cable operator in its own region.