Much of America like El Dorado County remains stuck with an outdated telecom infrastructure better suited to the 1970s and 1980s than 2006 and beyond. Perceptive commentators are rightly beginning to ask deep questions to determine why that’s the case and why market competition hasn’t spurred more rapid deployment of advanced telecommunications services.
Al Senia suggests in America’s Network that the lack of a national telecom policy rather than fostering vibrant competition benefiting consumers amid minimal regulatory oversight is actually holding us back. Another article appearing in techdirt postulates a key reason is telecom infrastructure is an inherently uncompetitive monopolistic system just like roads and highways. We don’t see competition for thoroughfares because they are so expensive to build and maintain that the only the government can afford to run them.
Given the very slow deployment of telecom infrastructure, it appears increasingly possible that private sector providers despite their substantial resources won’t be able to rapidly raise the billions of dollars of investment capital that will be necessary to expeditiously put the telecom infrastructure on a par with those of other nations that are now surpassing the U.S.
The nation may well need a huge national telecom infrastructure authority like the Eisenhower administration’s massive federal highway project in the 1950s to get us caught up. Otherwise, America may fall further behind and become economically uncompetitive with other nations, relegated to driving the telecom equivalent of the old Route 66 while the rest of the world travels on modern freeway systems.