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.