We Need A Broadband Competition Act, Not A Net Neutrality Act

from the get-out-the-wrecking-ball dept

Andy Kessler has put together a fantastic editorial for the Wall Street Journal explaining why Markey's attempt at legislating Net Neutrality won't do any good. As we pointed out when Markey first announced it, this plan seems to be focused on the symptoms, not the real problem (and, no, just having the FCC step in to slap the wrists of neutrality violators doesn't help either). The real problem, of course, is the lack of real competition in the broadband market. Kessler suggests that we shouldn't be focused on Net Neutrality, but should wipe out the bogus regulations that are currently restricting competition in the broadband market. That means not going through a painful localized franchising process or making it a pain to get the rights of way necessary to install equipment necessary for next generation broadband. It means actually opening up the market to competition, not creating subsidies and regulations that mean only the incumbents can play. Not that politicians are about to do anything like this, but it sure would be nice.

Filed Under: broadband, competition, ed markey, net neutrality, rights of way


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  1. identicon
    Mark Murphy, 26 Feb 2008 @ 9:25am

    Close, But No Cigar

    I agree that net neutrality will be significantly helped by more competition, though it'll take a whole lot of competition before we get out of the oligopoly state. Two competitors is not competition; 200 is. And it may take 200 in order to get one or more playing fair w/r/t net neutrality.

    That means not going through a painful localized franchising process or making it a pain to get the rights of way necessary to install equipment necessary for next generation broadband.


    If you mean that as I expect it'll be interpreted (see the Anonymous Coward's comment about digging above), then I think you're going to run into problems.

    You simply can't have dozens or hundreds of firms trying to lay fiber in a town. Even some wireless solutions can run into interference issues with everyone sharing a frequency (e.g., WiFi bad, cellular good). Both are examples of the oft-cited "tragedy of the commons".

    That being said, there may be ways to structure the competition such that the tragedy can be avoided. With respect to fiber, for example, I suspect there's a way for a town to own the fiber like it owns the water lines and sewers and whatnot. The town isn't providing the Internet connection, but it is allowing ISPs to connect to the town to provide service to whatever households sign up for them. The ISPs pay less vs. their own build-out, but they have to put up with competition. And if ISPs want their own build-out (e.g., different/better tech than what the town has), that's fine, but they have to go through the rigmarole they do today and perhaps more, to justify the hassle for the town's residents.

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