Tuesday, August 12, 2008

How can we achieve broadband competition?

We have discussed Columbia University Law Professor Tim Wu's wireless policy recommendations. In a recent NY Times editorial, he addresses broadband policy in general. Wu compares the US telephone and cable companies control over Internet connectivity to OPEC's control over world oil production and price.

Wu says Americans spend almost as much on bandwidth as we do on energy, and both are important to the economy and quality of life. (See our exercise on the cost of home connectivity and content).

He is aware that the US connectivity has fallen behind many developed nations, and feels we need to act to increase competition. He suggests municipal networks, customer owned fiber, and more license free spectrum. He concludes that "there is a pressing need to explore all alternative supplies of bandwidth before it is too late".

Roads, sewer systems, electricity and water are often supplied by municipal, state or federal government agencies. Do you feel there is a role for government in broadband communications? Can you state an argument for government participation? Against it?