Re: One step forward after two steps back
"Ma Bell's monopoly was arguably a good thing in the 20 and 30s and even 40s"
Doubtful. Ma Bell's monopoly was allowed to continue existing because the criminal anti-competitive behaviour it embarked on between 1900 and 1934 meant that the competing telcos no longer existed and were not capable of being resurrected. (Typically they were either bought out by AT&T or went bankrupt and the remains were hoovered up by AT&T)
The cost of that action was the "universal service" obligation that AT&T entered into as part of the legal settlement with the FCC in 1934 and it's arguable that the 1980s breakup of AT&T and subsequent reassembly (AT&T as a national telco now exists in all but name) may well have been deliberately engineered with a long-game plan to divest itself of the public-service obligations it had been encumbered with for the previous 50 years.
It's worth reading http://newnetworks.com/ShortSCANDALSummary.htm - the $200 billion dollar swindle. There are other analyses on the net, but the short form is that for the last 30 years telcos have been getting state-level concessions in exchange for infrastructure projects which never completed, then getting further concessions for further projects which never completed (and often never even started), including regranting of line monopolies and merger approvals. Those decisions have never been reviewed and the telcos have never been called to account for failure to make good on their promised work, even when going back to the states for more concessions.