Communications: A Giant Tug-of-Wire

New technology and deregulation are blurring the lines between telephones and cable TV, provoking a battle for America's homes

Randy and Betty Hyatt may not realize it, but their two-story ranch house in Cerritos, Calif., is a high-tech battleground. The Hyatts, along with 58,000 other residents of this affluent Los Angeles bedroom community, are testing a futuristic cable-television service that is years ahead of conventional systems. Linked by 2,500 miles of hair-thin optical fiber, the network not only offers 78 channels of TV but also lets subscribers browse through the Sears catalog, check their bank accounts and select from a large menu a movie of their choice anytime they want. Perhaps most surprising is the builder of the sophisticated TV...

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