Building bridges to the future

Building bridges to the future – US Telephone Association’s 92nd annual convention 1989

Deborah Pfeiffer

Building bridges to the future

The U.S. Telephone Association has been building bridges ever since the association welcomed the Bell regional holding companies into its predominantly Independent membership at its 86th convention in October 1983. Since that time, its consensus-building ability has been challenged by representing and promoting its constituency’s sometimes diverse interests in Washington.

And judging from the hefty issues it must tacke this year, the association has appropriately dubbed its 92nd annual convention “Building Bridges.” USTA expects approximately 3000 people to attend the Oct. 16-18 convention in San Francisco. USTA’s construction skills will be tested by such hot potatoes as price caps, cable television/telephone company cross-ownership, the Modified Final Judgment and standardization, which are reflected in the convention’s five main session topics.

On the Slate

In the coming year, USTA will be pushing to get price caps implemented for local exchange carriers by July 1, 1990, in line with the Federal Communications Commission’s agenda, says Paul Rogoski, USTA director of public relations. The association also plans to present its case for allowing CATV/telco cross-ownership to legislators, regulators, local government and the general public, for a “truer form of competition to be introduced to the marketplace,” he says. A couple of pieces of legislation already have been introduced in Congress that would eliminate restrictions that limit telcos from offering video programming, according to Rogoski. The panel discussion topics on Tuesday and Wednesday of the convention will center on public policy and regulatory implications of various technologies, including cross-ownership and MFJ issues.

The MFJ is a “touchy thing,” admits Rogoski. “USTA supports removal of restrictions in the areas of manufacturing and information services, with the stipulation that safeguards be adopted at the same time those restrictions are lifted.”

Other agenda items for USTA and the convention are industry standardization issues–such as the implementation of a nationwide 800 database system and LEC interconnectivity to facilitate integrated services digital network and open network architecture deployment. Discussions of ONA and common channel signaling also will come into play on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Highlights

Besides the technology panel discussions, USTA members will concern themselves with association business, saying goodbye to outgoing USTA Chairman Alan Hasselwander, president of Rochester Telephone in New York, and ushering in incoming USTA Chairman Dean Swanson, president of Standard Telephone Co. in Cornelia, Ga. First and second vice chairman positions also will shift up and a new third vice chairman will be elected. Ivan Seidenberg, senior vice president of Nynex Corp, becomes 1st vice chairman, and Joe T. Ford, president and chief executive officer of Alltel Corp., becomes 2nd vice chairman.

The normal intriguing fare of big names in the industry and the geneal public also will appear at the convention (see sidebar). On Monday morning, Hasselwander and USTA President John Sodolski will review past industry and association activities. Swanson also will speak, and Paul H. Henson, chairman of United Telecom, will deliver the keynote address. Alfred C. Sikes, the newly sworn-in FCC chairman, will undoubtedly outline FCC plans for the upcoming year.

Last year’s popular Industry Forum session, moderated by John McLaughlin of the McLaughlin Group, will return this year, hosted by Sander Vanocur, anchor of ABC’s “Business World” and a veteran reporter of business, financial, and political news. Vanocur will walk panelists–business representatives, government spokespersons and residential customers–through discussions and debate on 21st century products and services.

On Tuesday, Pacific Telesis Chairman Sam L. Ginn will speak on international gateways for telecommunications technology, specifically from the West Coast vantage point. A panel on “High Technology: Time for Telco Planning” will cover fiber optics, transmission, switching, computer terminals in the residence and HDTV. Actor/author George Plimpton will address an Independent Telephone Pioneer Association awards meeting. The panel discussions on regulatory and public policy implications of various technologies will follow.

Besides the USTA sessions, other groups will meet in conjunction with the convention, including the Exchange Carriers Standards Association, the National Rural Telecom Association and the National Exchange Carrier Association.

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