Argentina 1980-1989: The Rocky Road to Reform
Chapters three and four explore attempts during the 1980s to reform Argentina's telecommunications sector. Three administrations tried to privatize the national common carrier, Empresa Nacional de Telecomunicaciones (ENTel). The first two failed, but the last succeeded in transferring ENTel to private investors. These chapters will look at each administration and its efforts to reform the sector as a case in itself. This approach offers the possibility of a diachronic comparative analysis, in which similar events at different stages in time can be compared in one industry within one country.
The first telecommunications services were provided in Argentina in the late 1870s at the initiative of local entrepreneurs; however, large foreign companies rapidly took control. From the end of the nineteenth century until the mid- 1940s, telecommunications service was private, foreign-owned, and operated in a competitive and unregulated market. In 1946, the first Perón administration nationalized the sector. And, despite managerial and financial problems, it grew at a reasonable pace. By 1989, ENTel boasted a telephone density of ten instruments per hundred people ( Sindicatura General de Empresas Públicas 1990).