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Public utility

A public utility is a company that maintains the infrastructure for a public good. Public utilities are generally regarded in same places as natural monopolies or like specially regulated sectors.

In command economies, these functions are generally performed directly by the state.

In mixed economies, public utilities are usually tightly regulated by the state to avoid the adverse effects of de facto monopolistic private enterprise.

In some poorer countries, these functions may not be available at all.

Examples of utilities are:

Developments in technology have eroded some of the monopoly aspects of traditional public utilities. For instance, electricity generation, electricity retailing, telecommunication and postal services have become competitive in some countries and the trend towards liberalization, deregulation and privatization of public utilities is growing.

See also: