One of the biggest stories of my career — as someone who covered telecom industry — happened fifteen years ago: The 1996 Telecom Act was the start of the liberalization of an industry that had been vertical with very little competition. What followed was an amazing transformation of the staid calling industry — not necessarily for the better.
One of the basic tenets of the 1996 Telecom Act was unbundled access to the telecom facilities of the local phone companies, which meant competing phone companies could access the so-called “last-mile” that led to people’s homes over the incumbent carrier’s network. The change in law created an insane amount of competition, and turned the economics of the business on its head. It led to kamikaze-style pricing of phone minutes. Voice had been the primary source of revenue for phone companies for nearly a century.