In the old days, AT&T was a national, regulated monopoly. Its monopoly position was created and maintained by the government. The government authorized its connection charge. Since then the government created and maintained regional, regulated monopolies in the phone market. What has diminished the power of the government monopolies to charge long-distance connection fees has been the cell phone revolution.
Take a look at Tom DiLorenzo’s article on natural monopoly:
Here’s a piece on telecommunication regulation: