The power to regulate telephones and radio was given to the FCC when it was created by The Communications Act of 1934. The 1996 Act amends the 1934, but is actually much longer. The purpose of the law was to encourage competition, but it also has a vast regulatory scheme. The FCC began to alter its monopoly policy in 1968 with its Carterfone decision. While competition was being permitted in intercity service and terminal equipment, there was no competition permitted by the states in local exchange service. That non-competition in local exchange continued until the enactment of the `96 Act. .
The Telecommunications Act of 1996 fundamentally changes telecommunications regulation. It is a major revision of the Communications Act of 1934. It modifies the laws governing how the communication industries are regulated, creating a national framework designed to increase the advancement of telecommunications and information technologies and services to all Americans by opening all telecommunications markets to competition.
The industries directly affected by the law include: over-the-air television and radio stations, cable television operators, satellite broadcasters, wire line telephone companies (local and long distance), wireless telephone companies, and others. The general intent of the revision is summarized, among experts, as deregulation and promotion of competition. .
The Act as it is.
The Telecommunications Act made some major changes in laws affecting telecommunications, cable TV, and the Internet. The goal of law is to let anyone enter any communications business and compete in any market against any other. The Federal Communication Commission (2004) notes "The Telecommunications Act of 1996 has the potential to change the way we work, live and learn. It will affect telephone service -- local and long distance, cable programming and other video services, broadcast services and services provided to schools.