France Demonstrates Benefit Of Broadband Laissez-Faire
from the le-broadband dept
Last year, The FCC effectively shut the door on any hopes that the internet operators might have to share their lines with independent ISPs. Because the telcos own so much of the backbone, the last mile, and the legal right of way -- a full combination, not really possible, or reasonable, for anyone else to emulate -- they essentially have a natural monopoly; opening up the lines, so that companies can build services on top of them, is the only way to ensure a competitive market. So next time you get stuck with some outrageous bill for a triple-play offering you thought was supposed to save you money, you can look to France to see how the market might have developed were we to have a competitive system. In 2000, government regulators decided to break up France Telecom's monopoly. However, instead of the Ma Bell breakup, which just produced several regional monopolies, the government forced the company to open up access to independent data providers -- a trust-busting solution well suited for the internet age. Since then, prices have dropped dramatically for the "triple play" ($36/month from one company), speeds have shot up, and providers have introduced unique products into the marketplace. Importantly, France has young entrepreneurs trying to improve the internet marketplace, something you'd hope to see in such an important and evolving area. It's quite embarrassing that while the FCC is protecting low-quality, expensive monopolies, France, of all countries, has gotten it right in fostering competition, and demonstrating that free markets do benefit the consumer. Now they just have to get their labor situation sorted out.