Liberalisation of telecommunications and broadening of the value chain in Southern Europe. Telefónica, 1982–2000

Keywords: liberalisation of telecommunications, Telefónica, cable telelevision, value chain


This article deals with the opening of telecommunications to competition and its determinants in Spain, a country seriously committed to the monopoly. It is framed in the general scenario of an accelerated technological change driven by new materials, components and transmission systems, a sharp regulatory change and an extension of the value chain with new products and services, in particular data, mobile telephony and cable. Such properties fit perfectly with the time axis chosen which comprises the two last decades of the 20th century and coincide with a phase in which the protagonist company is facing the challenge not only of liberalisation but also of a profound change in the parameters of the market. The study focuses on Telefónica's response to new regulatory and market requirements. Methodologically, it revolves around the multidisciplinary nature, which integrates the approach of the history of technology understood as a system (Thomas P. Hugues and Melvin Kranzberg) and the economic and business history (Nathan Rosenberg). The text is structured in four sections that examine the persistence of the monopoly of Telefonica and liberalisation, the axes of Telefónica's transformation through global and strategic plans and the broadening of the value chain, focussed on the cable market. Some preliminary historical and technical issues and key elements in the evolution of the sector are addressed. The text attends to the relations between the market structure inherited from the monopoly and the process, from which the advantages of Telefónica with the rest of the companies emanate. The research rests mainly on primary sources of the company studied, twice as valuable because they are difficult to access by researchers and perfectly determined to grasp the company's strategy, as well as on reports from major international institutions and secondary literature. The conclusion deals with the methodological consideration of the close link between supply and demand-related factors.


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Calvo, Ángel. (2020). Liberalisation of telecommunications and broadening of the value chain in Southern Europe. Telefónica, 1982–2000. History of Science and Technology, 10(2), 185-216.