In what's likely only to be a surprise if you haven't been paying much attention, the FCC has said that the Baby Bells don't need to share any fiber networks they build and set up broadband over powerlines as an unlicensed service. Immediately following this, SBC felt free to share that, thanks to the FCC giving in to their demands, they'll fiber up the country in half the expected amount of time. In other words, as expected, they (and Verizon) were holding their fiber hostage, until the FCC gave in to their demands. While it makes sense that they would want favorable conditions, the fact that no one else was willing to step in and supply the market suggests some form of market failure. As we've discussed, fiber is an area where it might make sense for a single network that everyone has access to, since it's a natural monopoly. Instead, we'll get buildout from a variety of players, none of whom will provide the amount of bandwidth that they really should (and easily could). As for broadband over powerlines (known as the great broadband hype/hope -- depending on your position), again this is no surprise given the way the FCC likes to dream about this other competitor to the broadband space -- despite plenty of known technical and interference problems leading to many trials ending early. Still, this means we'll be hearing much more about this offering, even if it's unlikely to matter much for your average person looking for a broadband connection. Powell talks up the importance of a "third" competitor in the broadband space, but it's amazing that he considers BPL a more likely candidate than wireless technologies.
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