Aesop’s famous fable about the tortoise beating the hare tells a simple message about persistence and foolishness. We have searched in vain for as simple a story about fiber optic networks. But in doing so we realized that Aesop’s story may have its own, hidden complications; wouldn’t we like to know why? Would the tortoise win a rematch? Did he administer drugs to the hare in a pre-race celebratory cocktail? Was the hare reacting to advanced states of a heart condition that had not been detected yet? Isn’t rest a good thing, relaxing in face of an over-stimulated life? Maybe it was a Zen moment, not to be condemned but cherished.
In 1921 telecommunications was simple. That year our federal government gave AT&T a green light to gobble up all competitors to create a “natural monopoly” the would insure universal service at affordable rates. It was an amazingly successful adventure. For many decades the only meaning of telecommunications was making a phone call and talking, as simple as the tortoise beating the hare. Then the government reversed course and through a law that became effective in 1996 ordered competition and investment in the three converging markets making up telecommunications—telephone, television, and radio.