This study describes the liberalisation of telecommunications in Sweden and analyses the role of technology in this process. The stable and largely successful traditional monopoly regime was challenged in the 1980s by the development of new technologies and the general trend towards market orientation and competition. In 1993, Sweden had one of the most liberalised telecommunications markets in the world.
The process of liberalisation included opening the market to competing telecommunications equipment and networks, the transfer of regulatory responsibilities to an independent agency and the corporatisation of the Swedish Telecommunications Administration, Televerket. The State-owned company, Telia AB, was established in 1993 together with the new Telecommunications Law.
A sociotechnical systems perspective, emphasising the interrelatedness of social and technical factors, is explored in the study in order to supplement existing explanations of regime change. The concepts of sociotechnical culture and inertia are applied in the analysis of the traditional telecommunications system in Sweden and the process of system reconfiguration.
The economic potential of microelectronics and computer technologies was developed during the 1960s and 1970s both by the traditional system centered around Televerket and by an independent electronics industry. As a consequence, the same products and services appeared in two different sociotechnical cultures. From 1980 onwards, a number of technical connection situations brought about collisions between the "monopoly" and "competition" cultures, and the conflicts had to be resolved at the political level. Despite the sociotechnical inertia of the traditional system, the policy-making process resulted in gradual liberalisation and the decline of the monopoly regime.