The role of standards facilitated the development of markets for telecom infrastructure and devices.

The merger of Lucent and Alcatel was approved by their respective shareholders earlier this week and I ponder the development of competitive markets and how exactly did we get here, and what can we do about it?

International standards such as ANSI and its European equivalent CCITT which became ITU, have for several decades facilitated the development of markets for telecom infrastructures and devices. National vendors such as Canada's Nortel, USA's AT&T, Germany's Siemens, France's Alcatel, Sweden's Ericsson to name five, all supplied the necessary equipment to their government PTTs and in the case of Canada and USA, to their sister operating divisions.

Of course, a great deal has changed since the innovating times of the mid 1980s with Judge Green's Modified Final Judgement which managed the decomposition of AT&T into the eight companies – seven operating local companies and the long distance and manufacturing company. Just at that time, Nortel (then Northern Telecom), introduced the all-digital switch – an amazing platform that compressed the fundamentals of the central office switch from a giant analog machine, into a computer. This innovation was leaped upon by the newly created network architecture departments of the local operating companies, and the revolution began. AT&T the manufacturer had lost control of their most important market outside of itself.

And, that's because they had nothing to offer.

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