Sunday, April 01, 2012

Why America needs lower cost, coop business models to complete Internet infrastructure

The excerpt below from Timothy B. Lee's discussion in the current issue of National Affairs of what ails America's regulation of Internet infrastructure states a strong case for alternative, lower cost business models such as telecommunications cooperatives to bring fiber connections to nearly all premises and to keep cable companies from gaining near total market dominance:

FiOS is Verizon's attempt to solve this problem by replacing its slow telephone cables with fiber-optic connections capable of offering speed that can compete with Comcast's. But in 2010, Verizon announced that it was winding down its FiOS installation efforts. Verizon plans for the network to reach around 18 million households, but not in some major metropolitan areas, including a few (like Boston) at the heart of its service area. News reports cited the high costs of the project as a reason why it was not being extended to all homes in Verizon's territory. Meanwhile, AT&T's project to partially replace its copper network with fiber, "U-Verse," is also being hampered by high costs. U-Verse service is faster than a traditional DSL line, but it is significantly slower than Verizon's and Comcast's high-speed networks, and it will not reach all households in AT&T's service territory. This might explain why, in the third quarter of 2011, Comcast added more than twice as many subscribers as did the seven largest telephone incumbents combined.

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