Today, we’re happy to announce our newest white paper, “A Lesson From the Landmark AT&T Breakup: Both a Sector-specific Regulator and Antitrust Enforcers Were Needed,” by Public Knowledge Senior Fellow Al Kramer.
The paper discusses how the work of regulators and antitrust enforcers, working independently and with separate mandates, nevertheless complemented each other, to lead to the breakup of the AT&T Bell phone monopoly in 1984—marking a win for consumers and telephone competitors alike. The paper offers a deeper understanding of the history of the breakup, providing a blueprint for how both regulation and antitrust enforcement will be necessary to develop key remedies for curbing the problems Big Tech creates for consumers and innovation today. The paper also demonstrates how antitrust and regulation in the technology sector complement each other and proposes that regulation can lay the groundwork for both more effective antitrust enforcement and the advancement of other public interest benefits.
The following can be attributed to Al Kramer, Senior Fellow at Public Knowledge:
“As this case study exploring the history of the AT&T breakup demonstrates, not only is regulation consistent with the enforcement of the nation’s antitrust laws, but it’s also able to work synergistically with antitrust remedies. The paper outlines critical regulatory decisions the FCC made along the way that allowed the court greater leeway in structuring antitrust remedies.
“From opening up the telephone equipment market to providing for competition in long-distance service, the FCC provided a framework to the court that allowed dismantling the AT&T monopoly without disruption to the nation’s end-to-end telephone service. As a result, the court adopted a solution that could not have happened without the FCC preparing an environment that made breaking up AT&T a viable solution. An active regulatory agency over the tech industry, pursuing its own mandate and objectives, could likewise provide antitrust laws and the courts that administer them with the tools needed to allow greater freedom for courts to ensure the effectiveness of the antitrust laws.”
You may view the paper. You may also view our latest blog post, “Independent, But Together: How Antitrust and Regulation Can Work Synergistically To Benefit Consumers,” for more information.
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