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Memoria e Ricerca

Telecommunications Common Policy from the 1950s to the 1990s. Between Competition and Harmonisation: Genesis of a New European I

di Léonard Laborie
in Memoria e Ricerca n.s. 30 (2009), p. 89

This article aims at placing in an historical perspective the changes that gave birth in the Eighties and Nineties to the contemporary –transnational and liberalized– European telecommunications landscape. Telecommunications networks are articulated around a triangle linking operators (services providers), manufacturers (gears providers) and regulators (providing operating rules). In Europe, this triangle formed strong national monopoly till the Eighties within each nation: a compartmentalized organisation highly contrasting with the idea and prospect of a common market. This landscape was swept away from the Eighties on, the telecommunications sector becoming an icon of an integrated and dynamic Europe, around a common policy combining technical harmonisation (the GSM standard for instance) and deregulation. This article addresses the questions of the origin, goals and stakeholders of a common policy for a long time impossible to achieve, redefined at several occasions, and, at the end, emblematic.