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Competition lacking in National Broadband Plan
By Alice Straight, TMCnet Web Editor
The National Broadband Plan released by the Federal Communications Commission last week has come under fire from public interest groups.
Those groups cite a concern that the plan doesn’t go far enough in increasing competition in the broadband market.
According to the New America Foundation, a 100-megabit broadband connection costs as little $16 per month in Sweden and $24 per month in Korea, while service that is only half that fast costs $145 per month in the U.S.
“The Berkman Center report commissioned by the FCC (News - Alert) provides an in-depth assessment of the regulatory and economic environments of numerous countries around the globe. As an agency committed to making 'data-based policies' the FCC's omission of extensive research they themselves commissioned from The National Broadband Plan is glaring,” said Sascha Meinrath, director of the Open Technology Initiative, New America Foundation.
More competition would lower the prices for consumers, public-interest groups say.
The “open access” rules sought by public-interest groups would require large phone and cable TV companies to lease their networks to smaller competitors so they can offer services at their own prices. Because it is so expensive to extend lines to every home and business, they say, such obligations may be the only way to drive competition in many markets.
“Open access and infrastructure-sharing have proven to be a key differentiator between countries whose broadband services are faster and cheaper and those, like the U.S., who are lagging behind. This phenomenon, in fact, parallels the assessment conducted by 'The Economist' last September looking at how companies overseas have expanded mobile telecommunications to customers whose average return per user is a tiny fraction of what we pay here in the U.S.,” Meinraht said. “As ‘The Economist's’ special report underscores, whether fixed line or mobile, sharing of telecommunications infrastructure lowers the prices for customers.”
The National Broadband Plan has set a goal of 100 Mbps service provided to 100 million U.S. homes by 2020 and also calls for releasing 500 MHz of additional spectrum for wireless broadband.
Congress is slated to hold two hearings on the National Broadband Plan this week.
Alice Straight is a TMCnet editor. To read more of her articles, please visit her columnist page.
Edited by Alice Straight