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

Tony P. (
Sat, 5 Feb 2005 09:55:09 -0500

In article <>,

> 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.

Bell System management had decided early on that a stronger regulator
environment and regular profit were preferable to having to battle
CLEC operations of the time.

Of course Vail was able to absorb most of the competition which led to
Bell becoming a monopoly in a vast majority of the country. Otherwise
you were served by GTE, yet a smaller monopoly.

>> 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.

The fact that it derived regular profit was why AT&T could embark on
research of the scale that it did.

>> 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.

How likely was it for larger business to be using anything other than
Western Electric gear. In most cases, those companies didn't even own
their communication system but instead leased them from Bell.

Who cared that internal traffic wasn't carried on local loop, Bell was
still extracting revenue from that leasing fees which were probably as
excessive then as costs for maintenance on a G3i are now.

>> 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.

AT&T was powerful in that it could bring the country to its knees had
it wanted. By the time just after World War II governments had started
to realize it.

I'd place AT&T on the same tier as US Steel, IBM, Standard Oil, etc.

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