Discussion Papers

Marcus Weinkopf

Regulierung und Markteintrittsliberalisierung im US-amerikanischen Telekommunikationsbereich
Nr. 132 / August 1994
(no longer available)


The United States have always held a very particular position in telecommunications compared to other countries in the industrialized world. That is, on the one hand, true for the development and variety of service offerings, where the U.S. were ahead by decades of most European industrialized nations for a long time, but, on the other hand, also for the dynamics of changes in the market environment that have always been driven by private entrepeneurship in the provision of networks and services. With lots of news coming over the Atlantic about service innovations, company mergers, market-entries of U.S. carriers in foreign countries, etc., Europeans often get the - wrong - impression that the U.S. telecommunications markets would evolve nearly unregulated and free of public and political influences. In sharp contrast, however, a closer watch will quickly reveal that U.S. telecommunications are in fact characterized by a unique diversity of institutions and regulations that influence the shape of markets in various directions.

A particularity of U.S. telecommunications policy has been the long continuity of the legal rules governing the market development. Even fundamental changes as, e.g., the liberalization of market entry in the long-distance area in the 1960s and 1970s or the divestiture of AT&T in 1984 could take place without a reform of the legal framework. U.S. telecoms regulation today is still based on a institutional framework that was created by the implementation and interpretation of the Communications Act of 1934. Different than in most European nations, where legal reforms served as a kind of „official“ starting point for subsequent steps of market liberalization, in the U.S., the removal of administrative barriers to entry was solely enacted by court-decisions and regulatory decisions. A further important difference from the development in Europe is the very active role that the potential market entrants played in the process of enforcing the markets’ liberalization.

It would go beyond the purpose of this paper to give a comprehensive description of the course of the liberalization process in all market segments of U.S. telecommunications. The first two chapters will instead present the essential steps of market liberalization in the interstate/long-distance area, a segment where entry liberalization - as far as U.S.-firms other than the Regional Bell Holding Companies are concerned - can be viewed as completed since the mid eighties. The third chapter gives a short survey of the variety of entry potentials in other market segments and the policies of the FCC and State regulators dealing with these. Also in this chapter, the reader will find summaries of the main positions in the current debate on a reform of the Communications Act of 1934.

Only German language version available.

Discussion Paper is no longer available.

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