The Telecommunications Industry

By Susan E. McMaster | Go to book overview

Preface

The history of the telecommunications industry provides a wonderful illustration of the power of technological change. Throughout it, the emergence of new technology has been the driving force that has brought dramatic change to everyday life. The force of technological change has led to reorganization of the industry—more than once—and has persistently improved the range and quality of communication services available to consumers. The increasing ease with which we can communicate with others to exchange ideas and information has fundamentally transformed the lives of people around the world—economically, politically, and socially.

In this volume, Susan McMaster examines the evolution of the telecommunications industry in a series of stages from the invention of the telephone in 1876 to the present day. In the years following the invention of the telephone by Alexander Graham Bell, local service gradually spread to the major population centers of the United States. American Telephone and Telegraph (AT&T), under the leadership of Theodore Vail, undertook the formation of a nationwide long-distance telephone network early in the twentieth century and effectively promoted the goal of universal service. Even though the extent and quality of telephone service continued to improve, the overriding public interest in accessible telephone service led to both federal and state regulation during the early 1900s. Regulatory oversight soon proved to be problematic, however, since the states had difficulty overseeing the business practices of multistate telephone companies and the responsible federal

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