THEN: COMPTEL, the result of the 1984 merger of the Association of Long Distance Telephone Companies (ALTEL) and the American Council of Competitive Communications (ACCC), expanded its focus on long-distance competitors to include local, wireless and Internet service providers.
NOW: COMPTEL now represents nearly 300 service providers and their suppliers. It has acquired three other organizations, including Americas Carriers Telecommunications Association (ACTA) in 1999, ASCENT (formerly the Telecommunications Resellers Association) in 2003 and the Association for Local Telecommunications Services (ALTS) in 1995.
THEN: The telecom manufacturers organization was known as the US Telecommunications Suppliers Association, and would not become known as TIA until after its merger with the Information and Telecommunications Technologies Group of EIA. In 1987, the group had 300 members eager to sell more gear to new market entrants.
NOW: Today, the Telecom Industry Association represents about 500 manufacturers of carrier network and enterprise gear as well as service providers and enterprises. Its engaged in standards making, advocacy, market research and hosts the U.S. industrys largest trade event NXTCOMM (formerly SUPERCOMM) in association with USTelecom.
THEN: The United States Telephone Association had long been an advocate for independent exchanges as USTelecom and just a few years earlier had changed its name to USTA and began to allow the now independent Bell operating companies to join as full members.
NOW: The association changed its name to United States Telecom Association in 1996 and now goes by USTelecom, rather than USTA. It represents 1,200 member companies. The organizations focus has broadened as LECs have become telecom, video, wireless, longdistance and entertainment companies.
THEN: The Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association was just three years old. It later became the Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association after acquiring the Wireless Data Forum. In 1987, the group had 131 operator and vendor members and its hot issues were roaming, liaison with manufacturers, exploring second-generation technology and ensuring subscriber privacy.
NOW: Today, the group goes by CTIA-The Wireless Association. Its membership stands at 284 companies and its agenda has broadened to include 4G technology, spectrum expansion, mobile enterprise applications and even mobile entertainment.
The first-ever Alternate Channel cartoon appeared in the fall 1999 TRA Conference & Expo Show Daily produced by PHONE+. Humorist Lance Sterling teams with artist John Mortenson to lampoon the state of the industry month after month. While this first effort was in black and white, the cartoon now is published in color (though the commentary is quite often off-color).