The Rise of Globalism in Communications:

"Don't get stuck with the Old Kent Road"

"Two Lessons from Europe"

By Richard A. Cawley
CEC Brussels

Do not quote without the permission of the author.
1994 Columbia Institute for Tele-Information

Columbia Institute for Tele-Information
Graduate School of Business
Columbia University
809 Uris Hall
New York, NY 10027

I. Introduction

When I was young, there was a very popular game called Monopoly. Now even as a child you very quickly learnt that the person who normally won was the one who bought the two dark blue ones at the end of the fourth side of the board just before "Pass Go, collect 200".

On the English version these two properties are called Park Lane and Mayfair, on the American version I think they are called Boardwalk and Park Place from Atlantic City. But what was interesting was the reaction of the player who landed on them. There was no hesitation. You simply yelled out "BUY IT". Moreover if you then sold it you sold it for a song.

Now, I think that something like that is going on in the Communications sector, not just in the US but in Europe too, although for the moment there is less to buy in Europe.

What is driving this is the expectation of regulatory constraints being lifted; in the US the constraints are the divisions between telephony and entertainment and between local or regional and long distance; in Europe the constraints to be lifted are the geographical divisions on the provision of telephony service but with the prospect also of a loosening of the rules on infrastructure in Germany, Holland, perhaps France, increasing competition on mobile or personal communications ad with a Competitio n Commissioner in Brussels who is sympathetic to the views put by the Cable TV companies who wish to supply telecommunications services.

No-one knows exactly where they want to go or what business they want to be in but no-one wants to get caught with the Old Kent Road. In other words no-one wants to stick with what they have at the moment or even worse, a share of what they have at the moment.

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