Review of Industrial Organization 13: 491–494, 1998.
Telecommunication Policy for the Information Age. Gerald W. Brock. Cambridge
Harvard University Press, 1994, 324 pages, $45.00.
The telecommunicationsindustry is changingatablinding speed.Thosenotdirectly
working in the industry, as well as those who are, ﬁnd it difﬁcult to stay abreast of
the changing technology, players, institutional rules, and signiﬁcant economic and
political forces. In his new book, Telecommunication Policy for the Information
Age, Gerald Brock provides a much needed summary of the evolution of the major
events in the ﬁeld during the Post-World War II era.
Brock is an ideal candidate for this job. His ﬁrst book, The Telecommunications
Industry: The Dynamics of Market Structure provides one of the most insightful
accounts of the industry’s early history. One of the most notable features of this ﬁrst
book is how Brock reviews historical material and uses his training in economic
theory to provide keen insights into the evolution of telecommunications.
A few years after the publication of The Telecommunications Industry,Brock
joined the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). During his tenure there,
he played a key role in formulating policy. First through his research in the Ofﬁce
of Plans and Policy, and later as the Chief of the Common Carrier Bureau, Brock
was undoubtedly one of the most important policy makers in Washington during
Individuals play a crucial role in Brock’s current account of the industry. While
his earlier work gave some attention to the role of the key players in the industry,
his more recent writing emphasizes the role of individual perceptions and values.
The role of the individual policy maker is nicely illustrated through his insightful
account of the evolution of policy at the Department of Justice. During the early
1980s, William Baxter, who was the Assistant Attorney General during the Reagan
administration, advocated the divestiture of AT&T because he believed that the
Company was using its control of the local exchange to thwart competitors in the
long distance and emerging data and enhanced service markets. Baxter believed
that the local exchange companies should be limited to providing basic local
exchange transmission facilities, and should be excluded from the information,
manufacturing, and long-distance tollmarkets. AccordingtoBrock, Baxter“wanted
to draw a clean line between the regulated monopoly parts of the industry and the