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Telecommunications Act of 1996 In February of 1996 the US Congress enacted the Telecommunications Act of 1996 The Act was one of the most substantial changes in the regulation of any industry in recent history The Act replaced all current laws FCC regulations and the consent degree and subsequent court rulings under which ATT was broken into the baby Bells It also overruled all existing state laws and prohibited states from introducing new laws Practically overnight the telecommunications industry went from a highly regulated and legally restricted monopoly to open competition Or almost open competition It has been more than three years since the Act became law and while we have seen some changes they have not been as substantial as many analysts law- makers and regulators had anticipated The Act addressed five major areas of telecommunications 1 Local telephone service 2 Long distance telephone service 3 Cable television service 4 Radio and television broadcasting 5 Censorship of the internet The primary goal of the Act was to promote competition for local telephone services long distance telephone services and cable TV services Inter-exchange carriers IXC such as ATT Sprint and MCI and cable TV companies such as TCI and Jones Inter-cable are permitted to offer local telephone service The baby Bells or Regional Bell Operating Companies RBOC also called Local Exchange Carriers LEC such as BellSouth and Ameritech were permitted to offer long distance telephone services and cable TV services The RBOC were also permitted to manufacture their own equipment and to offer online information services and electronic publishing but under tight controls until 2000 Incidentally electric utility companies another traditionally highly regulated industry were permitted to enter the local telephone market I believe that the Act made the most impact on Local telephone service Local telephone service had been a regulated monopoly for almost 100 years Local telephone services are currently controlled by a handful of RBOCs who have not
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