New communications technologies, such as the new generation of smart phones powered by 5G, enter the market today at breakneck speed. The convergence of the media that produce content and the telecommunications companies that distribute it have enabled an unprecedented and continuous flow of information accessible on demand, courtesy of the instantaneous connectivity users across the globe have come to expect through their phones, tablets and computers.
However, none of this would have been possible before the great telecommunications revolution of the last century - a time well before many living in America today were even born. The U.S. government made the conscious decision to end the telecommunications monopoly, utility-like service provided by one company: AT&T. This decision was extremely hard to make. It and future decisions, coupled with innovation, led to competition in the telecommunications market, ushering in the unbelievable world of telecommunications choices we have today.
As we start the third decade of the 21st century, this vast array of telecommunications services brings many benefits, but nothing is perfect. Some of the challenges we face today harken back to the last century. To understand how we got to where we are, and how to address the problems that currently exist, it is critical to understand the history of competition, innovation and market reform in the telecommunications industry.
When Wire Was King: The Transformation of Telecommunications (WWWK) empowers us to better appreciate how our history of market reform and innovation in telecommunications led us to a world of choices. WWWK explores the issues we need to address as the telecommunications market continues to grow, adapt and becomes perhaps even more important to our day-to-day lives in a pandemic era. It is our hope that WWWK will provide important historical context about today’s telecommunications, and reinforce how looking back can help inform decisions going forward that will enable our telecommunications market to become even more vibrant and competitive in the future.