Remember just two years ago, when there were all sorts of stories about a supposed "broadband price war" in the US, where prices of DSL were even dropping
below the cost of dialup lines? While that was somewhat misleading, it's difficult to see how the Wall Street Journal can suddenly claim that the idea of cut rate promotional pricing for broadband is suddenly new
. That seems to go against what was being reported just a few years ago. Broadband providers have had such promotions going for quite some time -- and while the specifics of the promotion (and the ease of actually getting the promotion pricing) change over time, it's hard to see how the latest efforts are all that different. And, in the meantime, just as the WSJ is claiming that broadband prices are in some sort of freefall due to this competition, Richard Bennett is trying to make the case that we're all about to get broadband price increases
thanks to the FCC's wrist slap
So, apparently, broadband providers are extending all sorts of promotions with cheap pricing to get people onto their network, but if you actually want to use
the network, you should expect much higher pricing. That seems like a recipe for disaster.
Of course, the truth is somewhere in between. The so-called "price war" is exaggerated for effect -- as it's often nearly impossible to get the actual advertised prices in many cases. Meanwhile, Bennett exaggerates the claim that we're seeing price increases due to caps. Broadband caps will eventually be recognized as a hindrance to innovation, but they're hardly a price increase in most cases. And, if they really do end up being a huge price increase for users, then won't that create incentives for the other providers (the ones that the WSJ claims are itching to steal customers away) to get rid of the caps or change them? That is unless there really isn't competition in the market -- and Bennett himself was just suggesting that there's plenty of competition
in the broadband market.
So, based on these various stories, it seems that, thanks to the FCC's deregulatory efforts, we have tremendous competition in the broadband market that is driving down prices, except for the fact that it's driving up prices due to the lack of competition in the market created by bad FCC rules. Clear?