Network Neutrality And Natural Monopolies
from the follow-along-now dept
For example, look at the highway system. It makes little sense for private entities to compete to build multiple highway systems to "let the market decide." There may be some cases (private toll roads) where you can add to the natural monopoly, but the core needs to be built only once and then open to all. The same argument can be made for broadband. Have one full fiber system built (not the limited stuff the telcos are working on now) and let private companies compete using that network. If companies want to opt-out and offer a different kind of broadband (say, wireless) then that's their decision too. But, without that real competition we get the messy process of the telcos building a limited network, at high prices, where they attempt to control every bit of it and charge extra for it. In other words, more expense and less infrastructure. The NY Times piece linked above points out what we've said in the past, that this attempt to charge extra for what the broadband providers promised us (unlimited broadband) simply shows that they've been unable to deliver on their own promises -- something that broadband providers in other countries have been able to deliver on. Lessig points out that bandwidth for dollar we get in the US is well below other countries that have open networks, but it's even worse than he states. He uses the $15/month DSL number, which AT&T is suddenly promoting again after dropping it late last year. However, as a customer of their DSL (I'd go elsewhere if I could, but I can't because... yup, there's no competition at my home, right in the middle of Silicon Valley), I can say for certain that after the promotional rate runs out, they jack up the prices to ridiculous levels (in my case, it was $60/month including all the various fees). Add to that the $15 for a bundled phone line I don't want, don't use and can't unbundle, and suddenly I'm paying $75/month for slow broadband from a company that wants even more money if I want to use VoIP or a search engine.