[e2e] ATT and monopolies
tvest at pch.net
Fri May 18 14:53:30 PDT 2007
On May 18, 2007, at 4:30 PM, Bob Braden wrote:
> Ok, OK, I can't resist.
> My grandfather was a physician in Duluth, MN around the turn of the
> century. My father remembered that there were four separate phones
> in the
> front hall of their house. There had to be four phones, because there
> were four telephone companies in Duluth at the time. I suspect this
> was typical of American cities at the time.
> Had the Internet developed without any regulation or initial
> support, I wonder how many Internets we would have now? Probably at
> least the IBM Internet (SNA), the DEC Internet (DECnet), the Verizon
> Internet, the Microsoft Internet, ...
> Bob Braden
Welcome to the fuzzy side ;-)
I think we can safely say that AT&T probably solved your
grandfather's first problem, by buying up and integrating all of the
At first I bet he was quite happy to need just one handset/billing
relationship, but before too long somewhat less happy to have to
suffer (the observed) rising prices, as well as the (unobserved)
absence of new features and services that never emerged. The FCC came
into the picture in the 1930s to try to mitigate the first problem.
We were stuck with the second problem until first the FCC Carterfone
decision (1968) eliminated the incumbent's prerogative to deny
permission to attach third-party devices, and eventually until the
AT&T breakup (1984) divided the telecom market into territorial
distinct monopoly "basic service" segments, plus an overlapping,
extra-territorial, wide open "value added" service segment -- the
latter of which encompassed "international", "long distance", and
coincidentally, data. The 1996 Telecom Act was an attempt to create
the same breakthrough in the remaining bottleneck / local access
It was a happy time, one we are likely to remember fondly soon, now
that most of the regulations that created the conditions for such
great achievements have been abandoned. The anti-government, anti-
regulation, pro-monopoly interests have largely had their way; we'll
probably see how well this works soon enough.
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