The Telecommunications Industry

By Susan E. McMaster | Go to book overview

Introduction

Although the telephone was initially invented during the latter part of the nineteenth century, it is one of many inventions that underwent a number of developments and improvements during the twentieth century that made everyday life easier for people. During the century, the telephone grew from a novelty item that its inventors showed to people in a variety of circumstances to a luxury item that only a small percentage of people used in a developing industry to a necessity that almost everyone possessed and people carried with them wherever they went. When the telephone was first invented, few thought that it would be useful, yet by the end of the century almost every household in the United States had some form of telephone service, and many people throughout the world had access as well. During this period, there were changes in all aspects of the industry, from the technology utilized for calls and equipment to the structure of the industry—from duopoly to monopoly to competition in local service back to monopoly and finally to competition in long-distance services and equipment and the eventual reintroduction of competition in local telephone services. In addition, all parts of the government, including state legislatures, Congress, the courts at various levels, and state and federal regulators, played a role in the changes that occurred and how they occurred in the industry. The role of each of these is discussed as the history of telecommunications is presented beginning with its invention and going through the end of the twentieth century.

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