Washington Post Notices That Japanese Broadband Is Pretty Damn Fast (And Competitive)
from the in-case-you-hadn't-been-paying-attention dept
Whenever the debate comes up in the US about unbundling broadband networks and requiring network providers to offer their wholesale pricing to competitive providers, people say that it will kill those network providers and take away all of the incentive to invest in new network technologies. In Japan, it seems the exact opposite happened. When the gov't required DSL wholesaling to competitors, it certainly increased competition and lowered prices for consumers -- but it also opened up new uses for the network that increased demand for bandwidth. That became an opportunity for former monopoly provider NTT who was pushed (thanks to the competition which drove the increased usage) to invest heavily in a new fiber optic network that provided even better speeds and services. And what's happened? NTT is doing great: "NTT is becoming dominant again in the fiber broadband kingdom," according to a Japanese professor of telecom economics. This is a point we've tried to make repeatedly, but sometimes doesn't get through clearly: while many people fear that competition hurts innovation by making it tougher to profit, the opposite is usually true. Competition drives innovation as the competitors look for some edge that differentiates them and allows them to profit. That edge pushes the innovation train faster and faster, opening up new opportunities to earn even greater profits. The new things that people can do on fiber networks are going to help NTT (and others) make a lot more money than if it had remained offering pokey DSL without any competition.