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SPRINT URGES CONGRESS TO CODIFY MFJ LONG DISTANCE RESTRICTION

 WASHINGTON, July 30 /PRNewswire/ -- Sprint (NYSE: FON), in testimony submitted to the Senate Commerce Committee, took a strong position today against regional Bell company entry into the long distance telephone business.
 Sprint said Congress should codify the core long distance prohibitions imposed on the seven Bell companies by the 1982 court decree that broke up AT&T, and bar them from seeking permission to enter the business for at least 10 years. At the end of the decade-long ban, the Bells could petition the Federal Communications Commission for authorization to provide long distance services.
 If these and other modifications are accepted, Sprint said it could "enthusiastically support" legislation proposed by Sens. Daniel Inouye, (D-Hawaii), and John Danforth (R-Mo.), that would, among other things, promote local competition, loosen limits on telephone company entry into the cable TV business and stimulate investment in the nation's telecommunications infrastructure.
 "Sprint is supportive of the need for legislation in this area and of this bill in particular," James Lewin, Sprint's vice president- government affairs, said in the statement filed with the Senate panel following a communications subcommittee hearing on "The Universal Service and Telecommunications Infrastructure Development Act of 1993."
 "We would, however, suggest a number of changes to the bill which we believe are needed to foster a healthy, dynamic and competitive telecommunications marketplace in the future," Lewin said.
 Sprint, which provides local phone service in 19 states, applauded Inouye and Danforth's plan to open the local market up to competition from competitive access providers, cable TV companies and others. Under the bill, carriers would be granted pricing flexibility to respond to competition. Sprint suggested that provisions protecting universal service be strengthened.
 Sprint raised strong concerns, however, over a section of the legislation that would permit the Bell companies to provide some cellular and cable TV services across the LATA boundaries created by the divestiture decree -- also known as the Modification of Final Judgment, or MFJ. The interLATA restrictions have kept the Bells out of the long distance business.
 The conditions that existed when the interexchange restrictions were imposed -- including the potential for abuse -- still exist today, Lewin said. Therefore, if Congress relaxes the restrictions on some cellular and cable interLATA services as provided for in the Inouye-Danforth bill, it should put a statutory cap on any further relaxation of the MFJ until those conditions no longer exist.
 Commenting on the cable TV section of the bill, Lewin said the Bell companies and their affiliates should also be restricted from providing any type of interexchange service not specified by the legislation and should be prohibited for 10 years from seeking FCC approval for providing interexchange communications services.
 When applying for permission to provide additional interexchange services, the companies would have to prove to the FCC that there is no substantial possibility that the Bells could use monopoly power to impede competition.
 Sprint is a diversified international telecommunications company with more than $10 billion in annual revenues and the United States' only nationwide all-digital, fiber-optic network. Its divisions provide global long distance voice, data and video products and services, local telephone services to nearly 5.9 million subscriber lines in 19 states, and cellular operations that serve 42 metropolitan markets and more than 50 rural service areas.
 -0- 7/30/93
 /CONTACT: Steve Dykes, 202-828-7435 or, after hours, 703-242-1769, or Susan Kraus, 202-828-7410 or, after hours, 202-986-3952, both of Sprint/
 (FON)


CO: Sprint ST: District of Columbia IN: TLS SU: LEG

KD-MH -- DC006 -- 7636 07/30/93 09:37 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Jul 30, 1993
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