The Telecommunications Act of 1996 aimed to open markets and provide consumers with more and better communications choices. Since then, improvements in technology and the mergers of telecommunications companies have radically changed the telecom industry. But many of the changes promised by the act have yet to materialize. The regional Bell telephone companies still retain their traditional monopoly in the local phone market. In addition, the “Baby Bells” are still unable to compete for long-distance customers. Meanwhile, cable companies are fighting efforts to force them to let Internet service providers use their cable networks, which would provide customers with high-speed Internet access.