I spent a fair amout of time in a regional telecom company back in the mid to late 90's. We did several services (paging, internet ISP, cable, frame relay, etc.) but the big cash cow was long distance.
The Telecommunications Act of 1996 (TA96) was supposed to change all that. That bill opened up the stranglehold that the baby bells had on the local markets and was supposed to offer up competition for the consumer. By the time I left that company in 2000, the telecom industry was one of the strongest industries in the country.
A couple years later, the company I worked for got gobbled up by some company in Georgia.
The mighty AT&T was bought by SBC, a company it originally spun off.
The troubles at WorldCom/MCI are well publicized.
Now I see Lucent and Alcatel are thinking of getting together.
All this in six short years. Wow, how time flies.