TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: AT&T Hangs Up - and Few Are Sorry to Say Goodbye

Re: AT&T Hangs Up - and Few Are Sorry to Say Goodbye
4 Feb 2005 10:53:40 -0800

RamaChandra Raju Bhupathiraju wrote:

> Tue Feb 1, 6:31 AM ET Op/Ed -

> ... It was an overbearing monopoly before its breakup ...

No it was not. It's monopoly status did not result from anything
AT&T did, but rather from edicts from the state and federal
govts explicitly defining what AT&T could do. Note that AT&T
was also forbidden to act in many other markets, including those
it had once developed products (ie motion picture sound systems).
AT&T was strictly limited in what it could do and what it could
charge; people forget that there was much it could NOT do.

> Not since its early days has it been much of an innovator.

Most of our present day communication system owes itself to
innovations AT&T continued to make until divesture, not only in
technology, but also telecom administration.

> For much of its history, AT&T was the quintessential monopoly. It
> had no competition for local service, no competition for long-
> distance service and offered people few reasons to like it. Its
> customers could choose whatever color telephone they wanted, the
> saying went, so long as it was black.

Not exactly true. Customers DID have choices in using telegrams for
messages (as most people did until the 1960s when long distance costs
dropped), as well as using their own phone systems internally within
their company (as many large organizations did). Customers most
certainly had the choice of various telephone sets and services for
both residence and business to suit their needs, and they came in
colors, too.

> AT&T was once, arguably, the USA's most powerful company.

It was a powerful company, but not necessarily the country's "most"
powerful. Various companies have had great power over time. Years
ago US Steel was #1. IBM once held great power. The railroads, such
as the Pennsylvania and New York Central, were quite powerful. In
later years the energy companies like Exxon had power.

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