Friday, October 30, 2015

Blair Levin's "broadband competition" fantasy

Achieving Bandwidth Abundance: The Three Policy Levers for Intensifying Broadband Competition | ISOC-DC: The trial and many errors of my own work have led me to believe in the following bottom line: that the highest priority for government broadband competition policy ought to be to lower input costs for adjacent market competition and network upgrades. Today I will make the case for that bottom line and illustrate where I think the greatest opportunity is; to create a virtuous cycle of upgraded mobile stimulating low-end broadband to upgrade, which in turn causes an upgrade of high-end broadband which, by using its assets to enter mobile, accelerates the need for mobile to accelerate its upgrade further.

Blair Levin, a Brookings Institution fellow who drafted the U.S. Federal Communications Commission's National Broadband Plan issued
in 2010, somehow believes boosting mobile wireless "competition" to offer greater bandwidth will generate synergistic "competition" among landline premise Internet service providers and result in "bandwidth abundance." 

It's utter hogwash for the simple fact that telecommunications infrastructure -- regardless of whether it supports mobile or premise service -- is not a competitive market. Never has been and never will be due to high cost barriers to entry and uncertain return on investment as a mathematical expression in Levin's presentation illustrates. 

Levin's fantasy scenario would have us believe that if Verizon deploys next generation 5G mobile service, that would somehow spur Comcast or AT&T, for example, to upgrade and build out fiber to the premise (FTTP) infrastructure in areas where Verizon has rolled out 5G mobile. It's wishful economic sophistry. Levin offers no explanation as to how or why that would occur.

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