By David Worthington | Thursday, October 15, 2009 at 11:30 pm
A report commissioned by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) found that open access to broadband infrastructure is a catalyst for competition. I hope that the research will be allowed to stand on its own, and that its effect will not be diluted by telecommunications lobbyists.
In the report, the FCC examined global broadband plans and practices in an effort to devise a better strategy for increasing high speed Internet access in the United States. It found that government regulation that obligates open access led to more options and better prices for consumers.
“The lowest prices and highest speeds are almost always offered by firms in markets where, in addition to an incumbent telephone company and a cable company, there are also competitors who entered the market, and built their presence, through use of open access facilities,” the study said.
I am not at all surprised by its findings. Most metropolitan areas within the U.S either have a monopoly carrier or regional duopolies. Whereas, European established public/private partnerships to roll out broadband infrastructure, and guaranteed open access.
As a resident of Manhattan, I have no other option but to buy my Internet access from Time Warner Cable. Time Warner has had little incentive to upgrade its systems.
Consequently, it is not a very good service, and customer support is a nightmare. Verizon has begun to install FIOS in some parts of the city, but the service is not available for me yet. I want more competition.
Fortunately, that competition could be on its way. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 included a long overdue investment to deliver broadband access throughout the U.S. Companies such as IBM are working with the government to create new technologies as part of that effort. Open access should be made a requirement.