This article uses an original dataset to test the effects of government monopoly service, competition, and regulation on the development of the telephone industry in Europe in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Like today, there were stateowned monopolies in some countries, vigorous competition in others, and others with private firms operating under restrictive concessions. The main determinant of government control of the telephone sector was the state's involvement in the telegraph. Countries with competition between telephone providers and whose governments did not threaten to expropriate firms' assets saw higher telephone penetration and lower prices, even in rural areas.
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