Tracing the development of communication markets and the regulation of international communications from the 1840s through World War I, Jill Hills examines the political, technological, and economic forces at work during the formative century of global communication.
The Struggle for Control of Global Communication analyzes power relations within the arena of global communications from the inception of the telegraph through the successive technologies of submarine telegraph cables, ship-to-shore wireless, broadcast radio, shortwave wireless, the telephone, and movies with sound.
Global communication began to overtake transportation as an economic, political, and social force after the inception of the telegraph, which shifted communications from national to international. From that point on, says Hills, information was a commodity and ownership of the communications infrastructure became valuable as the means of distributing information. The struggle for control of that infrastructure occurred in part because the growing economic power of the United States was hindered by British control of communications.
Hills outlines the technological advancements and regulations that allowed the United States to challenge British hegemony and enter the global communications market. She demonstrates that control of global communication was part of a complex web of relations between and within the government and corporations of Britain and the United States. Detailing the interplay between U.S. federal regulation and economic power, Hills shows how communication technologies have been shaped by these forces and fosters an understanding of contemporary systems of power in global communications.