The telecommunications infrastructure of the United States is of great economic significance in its own right as well as being essential for the efficient functioning of all other sectors of the economy. An efficient telecommunications system not only makes possible the rapid provision of government services, the instantaneous transmission of news and the simplification of social communications but also is essential for the widespread communication of prices and other economic data that form the basis for the countless business decisions that, in the aggregate, guide the behavior of the free-market economy. Improvements in telecommunications system efficiency and services directly improve the functioning of market mechanisms and therefore have a direct impact on the performance of the economic system. There is no reason to accept anything but the best available telecommunications services, and the national interest is well served by active research and development programs that bring improved communications services to market.
Since the Civil War, when the emerging telegraph service proved invaluable in the conduct of military operations, an efficient, reliable, and secure national electronic communications system has been considered strategically important by the federal government. The government also has an interest in the availability of electronic communications to assist in protecting the public in time of natural disaster or epidemic.
Early in the history of telecommunications both in Europe and in the United States, it was a matter of common sense that a region or a nation was best served by a single integrated electronic communications system