Ma Bell Formally “The Bell System”

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Ma Bell

  • Formally “The Bell System” was ________________ controlled by the Bell Telephone Company

  • Operated all phone services in USA & Canada: ______ to 1984

  • Established by ___________________________(inventor of the telephone)

  • Who also established the American Telephone & Telegraph Co. in 1885 = known as _________

Theodore Newton Vail (1845 – 1920)

  •  president of AT&T 1885 – 1919

    •  "One Policy, One System, Universal Service.“

  • AT&T began purchasing competitors, which attracted the attention of ____________ regulators.

    • To avoid antitrust action, in a deal with the government, Vail agreed to the _______________________ of 1913.

    • One of the three terms of the agreement forbade AT&T from acquiring any more independent phone companies without the approval of the__________________________ (ICC)

Interstate Commerce Act of 1887

  • Created to regulate Railroads; then _____________________ ________________________________

    • Signed into law by Grover ___________

  • Abolished by ________________in 1995 (House: 417 yes, 8 no)

    • The 8 were all __________

    • Lynn ____________ voted yes


  • Around 1917, the idea that everyone in the country should have phone service and that the government should promote it began being discussed politically.

    • AT&T agreed, saying in a 1917 annual report: "A combination of like activities under proper control and regulation, the service to the public would be better, more progressive, efficient, and economical than _____________ systems.“

    • In 1918 the federal government nationalized the entire telecommunications industry, with ___________________ as the stated intent.

  • In 1925, AT&T created Bell Labs. This research and development unit proved highly successful, pioneering, among other things, radio astronomy, the ____________, and the Unix operating system.

  • AT&T ranked 13th among United States corporations in the value of its _____________ contracts for the USA Gov’t during WWII.

  • In 1949, the Justice Department filed an antitrust suit aimed at forcing AT&T to divest Western Electric (a __________)

  • Rates were regulated so that customers in large cities would pay higher rates to subsidize those in more ____________ areas.

  • _________ was appointed to manage the telephone system with AT&T being paid a percentage of the telephone revenues. AT&T profited well from the nationalization arrangement which ended a year later.

  • ______________ was highly regulated or prohibited in local markets.

  • Also, potential competitors were forbidden from installing _________to compete, with state governments wishing to avoid "duplication." The claim was that telephone service was a “________________," meaning that one firm could better serve the public than two or more. AT&T dominated this market.

  • Bell Telephone and AT&T had ____________ over time, beginning in the 1880’s.

  • They franchised 22 regional telephone services

  • These regional subsidiaries were the _________ providers in their regions.

  • AT&T directly controlled inter-regional calls (“____________________”)

United States v. AT&T, (1974)

  •  Department of _________ antitrust suit against AT&T (which is also Bell)

  • 1984 AT&T agrees to split into 7 independent regional phone companies

  • These were known as “______________”

A sign that hung in many

Bell facilities in 1983

  • There are two giant entities at work in our country, and they both have an amazing influence on our daily lives. . . one has given us radar, sonar, stereo, teletype, the transistor, hearing aids, artificial larynxes, talking movies, and the telephone. The other has given us the Civil War, the Spanish-American War, the First World War, the Second World War, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, double-digit inflation, double-digit unemployment, the Great Depression, the gasoline crisis, and the Watergate fiasco. Guess which one is now trying to tell the other one how to run its business?

  • Until this point, Americans couldn’t own phones outright, as the patents demanded that customers pay ______ on the phone itself.

  • This opened up competition in the phone device itself, of which AT&T had not been ___________________

  • New competitors in the phone device (not the phone service) beat AT&T with better/sleeker phone choices and AT&T lost value

  • It also lost the “_________” fees


  • Bell Atlantic (one of the 7 ____________) merged with NYNEX (a baby bell from the Northeast) in 1997

  • Then merged with non-Bell GTE in 2000 to create _____________ Communications

AT&T spins off sections of itself

2002: AT&T Broadband was acquired by _________

2005 a “ma bell” Southwestern Bell Company (SBC) acquired _______

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