Background Note | HBS Case Collection | January 2002

Telecommunications Act of 1996, The

by Thomas R. Eisenmann and Daniel J. Green


Reed Hundt, former chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, reflects on the passage and implementation of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. The act was intended to stimulate competition and innovation in the telecommunications sector. Its provisions were of great importance to industry participants and to society at large, which led to vigorous lobbying. This note provides background on the historic conflict between monopoly local phone companies and long-distance carriers, a description of the inner workings of the FCC and the political pressures confronting the commission, a description of key provisions of the act, an assessment of how well the act has met its objectives, and Hundt's reflections on the challenges that a regulator faces in seeking a balance between private interests and public responsibility.

Keywords: Laws and Statutes; Policy; Business Strategy; Telecommunications Industry; United States;


Eisenmann, Thomas R., and Daniel J. Green. "Telecommunications Act of 1996, The." Harvard Business School Background Note 802-144, January 2002.