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Light On Light Through


You'll hear a little of this and lot of that on Light On Light Through - my reviews of great television series, my interviews with authors and creative media people and their interviews of me, my political commentary, thoughts about my favorite cars and food and space travel, discussions of my music, and a few of my readings from my science fiction stories. These are usually audio and a few are video.  In the first years, starting in 2006, I put up a new episode at least once a month.  More recently, it's become more or less often than once a month, usually a lot less often.  But now, in the Fall of 2018, I'm getting more in the mood to podcast, and you can expect new episodes at least once a month.  - Paul Levinson

A Lesson from AT&T History

Aug 29, 2007


It's always useful to look at history.

Since AT&T lawyers seem to be doing the most grumbling about opening the iPhone to other carriers, I thought it might be helpful to look at AT&T’s reign as a near monopoly in American telephone service, or at very least the predominating force, until the “divestiture? on January 1, 1984 gave regional service to the Baby Bells.

You needn't look very far to notice a very telling fact. 

Indeed, it is something which always struck me as the most telling about AT&T’s 100-year rule - something which says it all, I think, about the impact of near-monopolies on phone service:

The telephone was invented in 1876.  It wasn't until the 1950s that more than 50% of Americans enjoyed telephone service in their homes.

Yes, the pace of progress was a little different, then, but not that different.  Television was in more than 90% of American homes by end of the 1950s, a little more than ten years after it was introduced commercially.

AT&T held its service very close to its vest.  Customers in effect leased phones from AT&T.  You had no choice but to use its service.  Sound familiar?

Under this regime, it took more three quarters of a century for phone service to reach the homes of more than 50% of Americans.

Unfortunately, AT&T seems to have not learned very much from this experience.  It is trying its same old tricks with iPhone service.  Fortunately, it looks like we won't have to wait a hundred years to divest ourselves of these tricks.