Ars Technica has dug out of its archives a 2008 piece about the FCC’s Carterfone decision from 1968, and it’s a fascinating read:
Within a few years of the FCC’s Carterfone decision, America had become a motley world of funny receivers, slick switch boxes, and rickety answering machines. More importantly, consumers quickly embraced the “modulate/demodulate” device, otherwise known as the telephone modem. A 1999 FCC policy paper noted the significance and justly gave the agency credit for the proliferation of this application. “The Carterfone decision enabled consumers to purchase modems from countless sources,” the agency concluded. “Without easy and inexpensive consumer access to modems, the Internet would not have become the global medium that it is today.”
The posting of this piece comes on the eve of the FCC’s net neutrality decision, and Ars is pretty clear that’s why it’s being dusted off.