Timeline: Key Moments In Telecom, 2000-2009

Kelly Teal, Contributing Editor

December 22, 2009

4 Min Read
Timeline: Key Moments In Telecom, 2000-2009


  • Companies cross their fingers as the clock switches to Jan. 1, 2000, hoping their Y2K planning was enough to avert disasters such as power blackouts and data losses, computer glitches or nuclear annihilation.

  • With Y2K worries behind it, the FCC votes to allow the Bells to provide in-region long-distance services under Section 271 of the 1996 Telecom Act.


  • On March 7, the tech-heavy Nasdaq passes the 5,000-point mark for the first time. But the dot-com bubble soon bursts; approximately 30 companies withdraw or postpone their IPOs.

  • The terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 on the World Trade Center in New York, in addition to being a defining moment of the decade, has vast implications for the vulnerability of the nation’s communications networks.


  • WorldCom files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, the largest such filing in U.S. history at the time.

  • The FCC concludes that cable-modem service qualifies as an interstate information service and, therefore, isn’t subject to common carrier regulations such as contributing to the Universal Service Fund or opening networks to rivals.

  • Qwest Communications International Inc. fires CEO Joe Nacchio amid allegations of more than $50 million in illegal insider trading.


  • The Michael Powell-led FCC opens a proceeding to look at how to regulate VoIP services provided by companies such as Vonage and 8×8.


  • In mid-December, Sprint and Nextel announce their $35 billion merger.

  • WorldCom emerges from bankruptcy as MCI.

  • The FCC eliminates the UNE-P resale platforms for CLECs. Competitive service providers are then forced to reach new commercial agreements with the Bells for access, with subsequent prices sometimes rising as much as 35 percent.


  • In January, SBC announces it will buy AT&T for $16 billion. In February, after weeks of tussling with Qwest for MCI, Verizon announces its $6.7 billion takeover of the former WorldCom.

  • Ed Whitacre, CEO of SBC, sparks the net neutrality debate with a statement to BusinessWeek that companies such as Google shouldn’t be allowed to use “his pipes … for free.”

  • The FCC frees the Bell companies from obligations to make their DSL networks available to independent ISPs, reclassifying wireline broadband providers as information services, rather than telecommunications services.

  • Qwest ignites a forbearing-filing frenzy among the LECs as the FCC grants it relief from unbundling obligations in the Omaha, Neb., market, citing intense competition.


  • The FCC fails to vote on a Verizon petition for forbearance from certain business broadband obligations. Verizon then gains the relief by default, sending the competitive industry into a tizzy because, without a written order to dissect, no one knows the extent of the relief.

  • The FCC in late December approves the SBC-AT&T and Verizon-MCI mergers.

  • Vonage Holdings Corp. launches its IPO to great fanfare and a $17-per-share opening price, only to watch its stocks plummet in value nearly overnight.

  • The net neutrality debate overshadows other communications issues, culminating in House and Senate efforts (that later failed) to reform telecom regulations — from both competitors’ and the Bells’ perspectives.


  • Smaller merger-mania hits the market: PAETEC buys US LEC; Access Integrated Networks buys Birch Telecom; RCN buys NEON; Mitel buys Inter-Tel; Rivermine and BBR Wireless Management merge; Tangoe and TRAQ merge; Integra Telecom buys Eschelon Telecom; NuVox and FDN Communications merge; Level 3 Communications completes SAVVIS unit acquisition, among others.

  • Apple debuts its long-awaited, highly hyped iPhone. AT&T is the exclusive service provider and together the companies set off a new wireless war over touch-screen technology, apps and mobile Internet access.

  • The FCC votes unanimously to reject Verizon’s forbearance petition for deregulation in six of its northeast markets.


  • The FCC holds a high-profile auction of the 700MHz spectrum.

  • Verizon announces the $28.1 billion Alltel purchase, a move that forms the nation’s largest wireless carrier.

  • Wall Street takes a licking throughout the last half of 2008 as banks fail and the recession kicks in.

  • Barack Obama is elected president and, for the tech sector, is expected to implement a national broadband policy and support net neutrality initiatives.


  • On Jan. 14, Nortel Networks Corp., the venerable telecom equipment maker, files for bankruptcy.

  • Later in the year, other debt-laden companies — Charter Communications, a cable operator, and FairPoint Communications, an ILEC — also file bankruptcy.

  • President Obama signs the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act, $28 billion of which is assigned to the communications industry for a broadband stimulus.

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About the Author(s)

Kelly Teal

Contributing Editor, Channel Futures

Kelly Teal has more than 20 years’ experience as a journalist, editor and analyst, with longtime expertise in the indirect channel. She worked on the Channel Partners magazine staff for 11 years. Kelly now is principal of Kreativ Energy LLC.

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