This paper, written for a conference at the University of Lisbon, surveys patterns since the 16th century in the governance of communications service providers -- in order, the mails, telegraphy, the telephone, and radio. It analyzes the tendency for many communications service enterprises to be publicly-owned and identifies reasons for the exceptions. Tasks subject to either public control or regulation are identified -- e.g., route structure, pricing, patent stalemates, technological standards, physical interfaces and interoperability, electromagnetic spectrum allocation, and the privacy of communications.
Scherer, F.M. "The Historical Foundations of Communications Regulation." HKS Faculty Research Working Paper Series RWP08-050, October 2008.