Opinion Piece on US Broadband Policy [9:17 am]
Channeling Reed Hundt, it seems - but is anyone listening?: Broadband Is Too Important to Be Left to Cable-Phone Duopoly
Competition in the market for broadband Internet access remains alive, despite what can look like a concerted campaign by big business and government to abolish it. The latest such steps were a Supreme Court ruling and a Federal Communications Commission vote that allowed cable and phone companies to block competitors from their networks.
Be glad that competitors are still around: The phone and cable incumbents still fall short of many customers’ needs, and it’s up to other companies to meet them.
But as long as telephone and cable TV lines are the only affordable ways to pipe data to and from a house, any challenger to Comcast, Verizon and their ilk must first go into business with them. The competitor has to rent a phone or cable company’s wires — lines installed under a government-sanctioned monopoly — to reach any customer’s home.
[...] Fortunately, at least one half of the cable-phone duopoly seems to have awakened to the benefits of competition. Not only has Verizon continued to sell access to its lines to other DSL providers, it’s also discussing ways to offer access to the fiber-optic service it has zero obligation to share with anybody. Two providers, EarthLink and Seattle-based Speakeasy, said they’re talking to Verizon about offering their service over Fios lines.
We’d be fools to count on the continued generosity of a Verizon, though. The government needs to do its job as well.