The European telecommunications sector is undergoing major structural change in the face of new technology, privatisation and European Commission directives requiring market liberalisation. This study considers the comparative performance of the major European telecommunications operators between 1978 and 1998. This period encompasses an era of state monopolies, market liberalisation initiatives and a number of privatisations. The objectives are to assess: the extent so far to which market liberalisation and privatisation have impacted on the efficiency with which telecommunications services are provided in Europe; and changes in the performance of the different telecommunications operators over time with a view to providing an insight into the comparative efficiency performance of the different telecommunications operators in Europe. Performance is measured in terms of profit margins and labour and total factor productivity.