Should Broadband Be Regulated?
from the yes-and-no dept
For years people have been debating the question of whether or not broadband should be regulated by the government. You hear people arguing on both sides of the equation – with both saying that their solution will increase competition and help stimulate the broadband industry. So, which side is right? Salon takes a closer look at the arguments on both sides concerning broadband regulation. Those who favor deregulation say it will help stimulate broadband access by letting companies offer more services without worrying about having to open up their networks. However, it also means that broadband offerings will dwindle down to a few major companies that own the pipes (since those few companies won’t share their networks). Consumer advocacy groups fear monopoly pricing and monopoly power to limit what people can do with their internet connections. The companies themselves say that they’ll face plenty of competition from competing platforms. So, cable will compete with DSL, satellite and any newer services like fixed wireless. It’s an interesting argument. I think that any company that tried to limit how people could use their internet connections (such as blocking streaming video or creating walled gardens) will discover a rapid mass exodus. However, that doesn’t mean they won’t try.
Comments on “Should Broadband Be Regulated?”
Should functions, not technology be regulated?
As much as I dislike government regulation, I understand that free-market solutions work best when your market approximates perfect competition, and regulation can have a positive effect (if carefully done) in bringing about those conditions.
That said, I wonder if regulation should be aimed along the lines of “If you make music, you can’t own the radio station and record stores”. In other words, you can make content, as much as you want, or you can own content delivery channels, but you can’t have both.
Ideally, content producers would have to compete to get into the channels, and delivery owners would have to get content to sell to subscribers and there would be a constant churning of deals to offer the most content or get your content into the most channels.
I haven’t thought this through rigorously, but there might be the seed of an idea here.
The Threat vs. The Reality
This article presents a well-balanced view of many of the issues that were discussed at pulver.com’s Connectivity 2002 conference. While people were complaining about the lack of broadband access they were also worried about the content limitations that MAY result in access provider consolodtion. But the latter is a threat more than a reality. And we won’t know if it will happen until broadband is deployed. What we do know is that broadband isn’t being deployed at the rate it should be. So I tend to agree with David Clark who in the article says, “The gamble is to get broadband out there, no matter what it looks like”. Even if the providers throw up walled gardens, they won’t last or be successful. Just look how AOL was forced to embrace the internet or how walled gardens have failed for wireless carriers’ WAP services. Consumers just won’t use them and carriers will have to open up.