Master Switch, The: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires

Networks, the Internet, and Cloud Computing, Internet, Networks and Infrastructure and Media and Content

Article Snapshot


Tim Wu


Alfred A. Knopf, 2010


This book looks at how radio, television, and the telephone evolved, and argues that the Internet might be similar.

Policy Relevance

Government may have a role in regulating the effects of media monopolies.

Main Points

  • As AT&T’s telephone business evolved over time, the government became increasingly involved with the business, and it evolved from a competitive industry to a monopoly.

  • Radio, television, and movies evolved in a similar way. Each type of business uses a network, either a network of theatres or a physical network of underground cable.

  • Networks have a tendency to become monopolies, and government must then become involved to control the political effects of monopoly on communications.

  • The Internet is likely to evolve in a similar way, with many hobbyists contributing to what began as a government defense network. Government may have a role in ameliorating trends towards monopoly by enforcing network neutrality rules or antitrust regulations. 

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