Verizon: US Broadband Is Really Competitive, If You Just Redefine The Market The Way We Want…
from the that-whole-'and-wireless'-bit dept
Almost all of the issues facing broadband in this country (our slow speeds and high prices relative to other countries, questions about “neutrality” and things like customers being forced into broadband tiers) are really symptoms of a lack of significant competition in many markets. Many customers really only have one or two options, neither of which they like (I’m in that camp myself). Yet, the broadband providers want to make everyone believe it’s a really competitive market. That’s why they’ve done everything possible to block the FCC from getting accurate data about actual broadband deployments and competition over the years. Their most recent plan has been about pitching the idea of an organization called “Connected Nation” to “map” broadband penetration. However, as has been discussed previously, Connected Nation seems more like a front for the big telcos to try to pretend there’s significant competition… and an increasing number of doubts are being raised about Connected Nation’s efforts — even as it seems to remain a darling of DC politicians. However its “mapping” still won’t look at house-by-house penetration and competition (by demand from the broadband providers) and the collected data will remain proprietary, rather than open.
Meanwhile, Verizon has put up a video claiming to explain why there’s plenty of competition in broadband in the US, but it does so by pulling a neat little trick: rather than defining the market as DSL and cable providers, it dumps wireless providers into the mix… So when you add mobile data providers, yes, there are more players in the space, but that ignores the fact that (1) many of the mobile players and broadband players are actually connected (i.e., AT&T has both, as does Verizon) and (2) that the cellular wireless broadband providers are all greatly limited, and use terms of service that tend to forbid using the data account as a primary connection. In other words, they’re not really part of the same market at all.
But, most importantly, the video fails to back up its thesis that the US is “one of the most successful broadband markets in the world.” It says there’s lots of competition, investment in new technologies and consumers are getting more as prices go down. That suggests there is, in fact, some competition in the market — a point pretty much everyone agrees on. But it does nothing to compare the US to other markets around the world that have much more competition, much more investment and much greater consumer value per dollar spent. Just saying that because there’s some competition, the US is one of the most successful in the world, doesn’t back up the thesis at all. It’s like saying that you won a baseball game because you fielded nine guys. You forgot about the actual game.