The Historical Foundations of Communications Regulation

17 Pages Posted: 12 Nov 2008

See all articles by Frederic M. Scherer

Frederic M. Scherer

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS)

Date Written: October 14, 2008


This paper, written for a conference at the University of Lisbon, surveys patterns since the 16th century in the governance of communications service providers - in order, the mails, telegraphy, the telephone, and radio. It analyzes the tendency for many communications service enterprises to be publicly-owned and identifies reasons for the exceptions. Tasks subject to either public control or regulation are identified - e.g., route structure, pricing, patent stalemates, technological standards, physical interfaces and interoperability, electromagnetic spectrum allocation, and the privacy of communications.

Keywords: Regulation, Science, Technology, Public Policy

Suggested Citation

Scherer, Frederic M., The Historical Foundations of Communications Regulation (October 14, 2008). HKS Working Paper No. RWP08-050, Available at SSRN: or

Frederic M. Scherer (Contact Author)

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) ( email )

79 John F. Kennedy Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
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