By Matthew Lasar
Hopping mad about metered billing? Spluttering about tethering restrictions and early termination fees? Raging over data caps? You’re not alone. Perhaps you can take some comfort from this editorial in The New York Times:
The greedy and extortionate nature of the telephone monopoly is notorious. Controlling a means of communication which has now become indispensable to the business and social life of the country, the company takes advantage of the public’s need to force from it every year an extortionate tribute.
Yes, that’s how The Times saw it—in 1886. And the newspaper’s readers applauded these words. But reading Richard R. John’s wonderful book, Network Nation: Inventing American Telecommunications, one is struck by the contrasts between then and now. The issues are often recognizable; the players a little less so.