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The year of 1984 was the starting date for the modern history of telecommunications. It saw the introduction of competition into the US market and privatisation in the UK with the divestiture by AT&T of seven regional Bell operating companies (the Baby Bells), the privatisation of British Telecom as a public limited company and the establishment of the British Regulator, Oftel.1

The same year also saw the publication of the report of the ITU’s Maitland Commission (“The Missing Link”), which firmly established for the first time the link between access to telecommunications and development, and drew attention to the benefits networks could deliver to emergency operations, social services, administration and commerce.

Thus began two decades of parallel and sometimes intersecting work on telecommunications reform and communications for development programmes, culminating in December 2003 with the World Summit on the Information Society held in Geneva. WSIS is a test of whether the telecommunications revolution can meet the twin demands of liberalisation and public service and reconcile the interests of big business, governments and civil society. statistics_theme_top_text

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