Telecommunication in America

Telecommunications has had a storied history in America. Many people know about the AT&T split of 1984, but this wasn’t the first time that the government imposed changes to telecommunications companies.

The biggest such occurrence was probably in 1926, when AT&T ended a long battle with rival RCA. This agreement saw AT&T selling its radio broadcasting assets to RCA and focusing on telephone business, which it had developed as a natural monopoly. RCA would have a temporary monopoly on radio broadcasting equipment.

This change lead to AT&T’s longstanding natural monopoly on the telephone. Many changes imposed by the government over the years, including the big break up of 1984 have lead to the erosion of this monopoly. However, AT&T still owns and operates the physical phone line equipment that all other providers in America use.

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