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The Making of Telecommunications Policy

Dick. W. Olufs III
ISBN: 978-1-55587-707-1
1999/214 pages/LC: 98-7499
Explorations in Public Policy

"The book's rich understanding, information, and insights about telecommunications and the passage of the 1996 act are skillfully integrated into the narrative.... The Making of Telecommunications Policy is among the more important contributions since Horwitz's The Irony of Regulatory Reform. Anyone who wants to understand telecommunications policymaking should read this book."—John Havick, American Political Science Review

”It is a well-researched and comprehensive history of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, and clearly succeeds in that it covers all the principal aspects of this landmark legislation. Olufs is to be congratulated for this effort, which he seems to aim to update Horvitz’ 1989 classic The Irony of Regulatory Reform.”—Dr. Barry Orton


The Making of Telecommunications Policy examines the history, politics, and impact of telecommunications policy.

Beginning with a comparison of several alternate views of the future, Olufs explains how government action makes the widespread use of some new technologies more likely than others. He details the challenges that rapid advances in communications technologies pose for policymaking institutions, and considers the ways that government responds to the ideological, economic, and political interests of industry, private advocacy groups, and individuals.

Olufs discussed the recent trend toward deregulation and provides a full analysis of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, including the politics of its enactment and its long-term implications for both industry and the daily lives of citizens.


Dick W. Olufs III is professor of political science at Pacific Lutheran University. He is coauthor (with David Schuman) of Diversity of Campus, Public Administration in the United States, and A Preface to Politics.


  • Introduction.
  • The Evolution of Telecommunications Policy.
  • Major Legislation Emerges.
  • How Did Deregulation Come to Dominate Policymaking?
  • The New Playing Field After the 1996 Act.
  • Conclusions.