Wednesday, May 06, 2015

FCC's Sohn: Wired Broadband Competition Lacking | Broadcasting & Cable

FCC's Sohn: Wired Broadband Competition Lacking | Broadcasting & Cable: Gigi Sohn, senior counselor to FCC chairman Tom Wheeler, told a New Haven, Conn., audience Monday that "the simple truth is that meaningful competition for high-speed wired broadband is lacking."

She came not to bury broadband, but to praise the state's 1 gig community broadband project as a way to provide that "lacking" competition.

Viewed in the context of landline Internet infrastructure as a whole, Sohn is correct. It's a natural monopoly due to high cost barriers that keep out potential competitors as well as inefficiencies that make building parallel infrastructures as nonsensical as building multiple competing roads and highways serving the same area. If they were privately owned and operated for profit -- as is most telecommunications infrastructure in the U.S. -- the likelihood of their having a net present value greater than zero is slim to none.

What this story as well as many others lamenting the lack of "broadband competition" fail to mention is how Connecticut's project does offer competition to the consumer for Internet services via open access fiber infrastructure that provides wholesale access to Internet Service Providers (ISPs) as an alternative to the vertically integrated, closed access infrastructures used by the legacy telephone and cable companies as well as Google Fiber. ISPs would then compete to sell their services to consumers. From the CT Gig Project website:

The open-access model would introduce true competition into the Internet
marketplace. The idea is to build the infrastructure and then give Internet
providers equal access to utilize it. Your Internet choices should be made
based on price and service, not solely by the town boundaries you reside in.

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