NERA Topics #12: Regulation of Competitive Telecommunications Markets

Thu Apr 01 15:24:38 EST 1993
By Nigel Attenborough

In years to come, there is little doubt that the 1980's will be seen as a watershed in the history of telecommunications. This is not because of the major technological changes that have occurred or the burgeoning number of services and applications now available to consumers, remarkable though these are, but because of the steps taken along the road to liberalization. What was traditionally seen as the monopoly preserve of state owned enterprises is now recognized as an industry where competition can and should be allowed.

Since 1980 there has been widespread privatization, the divestiture of AT&T, the emergence of competing providers of basic network services in the UK, Japan, Australia, Sweden, Finland, Canada, and New Zealand, and liberalization of the terminal equipment, mobile communications, satellite and value-added services markets across Europe and beyond. While some of these events may now seem commonplace, the inter-galactic traveler calling in on planet earth after an interval of 15 years would undoubtedly see them as momentous developments.

This working paper discusses the significant changes in the structure and ownership of the telecommunications industry and its profound implications for the regulatory framework.