chapter  14
22 Pages

The New State Role in Ensuring Universal Telecommunications Services

The federal Telecommunications Act, which President Clinton signed into law on February 8, 1996, shattered the social compact that had governed the provision of basic telephone services in this country for most of this century. Beginning in 1907, state regulation of local telephone services had evolved into an elaborate social compact that granted special privileges and responsibilities to the local exchange companies (Cohen, 1992). The antecedents of the social compact were public service companies established in 19th-century U.S. law, such as railroads and grain elevators, as well as English common law (Stone, 1989).