AT&T Case in Perspective: A 20 Year Retrospective

Tags: Technology Policy

Throughout the 1970s and early 1980s, the antitrust case against AT&T appeared to be a quixotic quest. But the perseverance of antitrust enforcers and the effective case management of Judge Harold Greene, as well as the efforts of various other backers in the political and business world, gave rise to the biggest antitrust success of the 20th century. The breakup of AT&T spawned competitive sectors in long distance and equipment manufacturing as well as transformed the nature of the telecommunications industry, ultimately paving the way for the regulatory reform effort launched by the Telecommunications Act of 1996.

Via a panel-discussion format, this conference will examine three sets of issues related to the AT&T case. The first panel will discuss the case itself, with a recounting of the key events leading up to the case as well as the technological claims made about the feasibility of competition in telecommunications. The second panel will examine the AT&T consent decree’s impact on the industry, addressing the three main affected interests: the new AT&T, the emerging competitive sector, and the newly created Baby Bells. The final panel will evaluate the AT&T case as it shaped antitrust law. As the major antitrust landmark of the 20th century, the case provided a model that shaped later antitrust actions, including those involving Microsoft and the current cases pending against the Baby Bells in the wake of the market opening process called for by the 1996 Telecom Act.


Welcome and Overview
Reflections on the Case Itself
  • Larry DeMuth
    Former Executive Vice President, General Counsel, and Secretary, Mountain Bell and US West
  • Dale Hatfield
    Spectrum Policy Initiative Co-director and Distinguished Advisor, Silicon Flatirons
  • Phil Verveer
    Senior Counsel to the Chairman, Federal Communications Commission
  • Pete Willis
    Partner, Kutak Rock
Industry Impact of the Case
  • Michael Beach
    Vice President, MCI
  • Randy Milch
    Executive Vice President, Senior Policy Advisor to the CEO, Verizon Communications Inc.
  • Mark Rosenblum
    Former Vice President of Law and Public Policy, AT&T
  • F.M. Scherer
    Professor Emeritus, John F. Kennedy School of Government
Its Impact on and Legacy for Antitrust Law
  • Sean Lindsay
    Associate General Counsel, Qwest
  • Larry Theis
    Partner, Perkins Coie
  • William Lake
    Partner, WilmerHale
  • Tucker Trautman
    Partner, Dorsey & Whitney
Keynote Speech
  • Tim Wirth
    Former U.S. Senator

Know What’s Next