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Abstract

Telecommunications in Turmoil: Technology and Public Policy, by Gerald R. Faulhaber.* Cambridge, Mass.: Ballinger, 1987. 186 pages. $26.95.

Gerald R. Faulhaber's Telecommunications in Turmoil: Technology and Public Policy chronicles the breakup of AT&T consequent to Judge Harold Greene's approval of the Justice Department-AT&T consent settlement in 1982 (colloquially known as the modified final judgment or MFJ). Some saw the breakup as a disaster on the order of the sinking of the Titanic: "they were sad when the great ship went down.' While people mourned the Titanic as a human tragedy, however, probably no one thought of the AT&T breakup in quite that way; Ma Bell was not, after all, mom. Still, she was held in fairly high regard. In contrast to other monopolists we've loved to hate-railroads, gas utilities, broadcast stations, and countless other enterprises with protected market positions- AT&T's monopoly seemed not only natural but relatively benign. Notwithstanding Joan Rivers' carping MCI advertisements, the system pioneered and developed by AT&T was justly acclaimed the world's finest. Telephone rates were comfortably affordable; furthermore, in the heyday of the telephone monopoly the rate system was generally perceived as fair. Service innovation, while not rapid, nevertheless did proceed more rapidly than in other sectors of the economy.

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