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Why Broadband is Not a Public Utility

The data and evidence show that broadband is not a public utility warranting economic regulation of prices, terms and conditions; this is contrary to the assertions of net neutrality proponents: the Markey-Eshoo Bill, FreePress, the Open Internet Coalition, and Google's Internet Evangelist Vint Cerf, among others.

Why is broadband not a public utility? 

First, it is a competitive service, not a natural monopoly service.

A public utility presumes "natural monopoly" economics where economies of scale and scope preclude the possibility of competitive facilities/services. 

  • The roughly $200b in private risk capital invested in financially-successful U.S. competitive broadband facilities over the last several years is incontrovertible evidence that broadband does not enjoy natural monopoly economics.

Second, users have choice of access providers.

Where does choice come from?

Choice, having the benefit of a selection of different alternatives to choose from, springs from the risk and opportunity of market competition  -- not from Government economic regulation.

Voting with dollars: American Wireless Consumers Pay Much Less, Use Much More than Other Countries

Kudos to Steve Pociask of the American Consumer Institute for his research reminding regulators that American consumers enjoy the most competitive, useful, and innovative wireless market in the world.

In reviewing the stats that matter most, the U.S. is far ahead of the rest of the world.

  • Americans use 600 more wireless minutes a month than the average OECD country, which is 2-5 times more usage to put it in perspective.
  • Americans also pay 10 cents per minute less than the average European does.

We constantly hear from anti-competition forces that competition doesn't work.

  • The evidence that they are dead wrong is overwhelming.
  • Competition works!

     

     

     

Special access facts show more not less competition

Pat Brogan of USTelecom and Evan Leo of Kellog Huber have produced an outstanding new report on special access that is the single best and most up-to-date survey and analysis of publicly available information on the status of competition in the special access market. 

Special Access Nostalgia for Telecom's Bronze Age is No Path to 21st Century Broadband Leadership

The supreme irony of the special access* issue is that competitors, who want to avoid investing in next generation broadband access facilities, are demanding that the FCC... (whose top priority is a National Broadband Plan to encourage the rapid build-out of modern broadband facilities to all Americans) ...regulate copper access prices in a way that surely would discourage investment in the exact next generation facilities that the FCC wants to get built.

  • * "Special access" is basically the business-to-business leasing market of the copper wire connections that link many buildings and cell towers to the Internet backbone at DS1 (1.5 Mbs) and DS3 (44.7 Mbs) speeds.
  • Bronze is 90% copper and 10% tin.

DOJ will find vibrant competition in reviewing telecom industry

The DOJ has opened an initial review of the telecom industry, per WSJ reports, as part of the Obama Administration's and the Varney Antitrust Division's "aggressive stance on antitrust enforcement."

Antitrust enforcement is fact-driven, since it ultimately must be proven in court. The competitive facts in the telecom industry will speak for themselves; the industry is clearly and overtly competitive and trending more competitive. 

This review will not be difficult or take long since the DOJ has vast and deep experience with the U.S. telecom industry -- having overseen the AT&T Consent Decree 1984-1996, been intimately involved with the drafting and implementation of the 1996 Telecom Act including the detailed development of local competition and Bell entry into long distrance. The DOJ also has reviewed and approved a number of telecom mergers over the last several years, most recently the approval of Verizon-Alltel and Centurytel and Embarq.

  • It is important to note that the scrutiny standard of approving a merger is a dramatically tougher standard than that of a Sherman antitrust action.
  • Generally as a rule of thumb, the DOJ prevents proposed mergers that would create combined market share of over 30%, while the market share standard to prove a Sherman antitrust case generally requires at least a 50% share and more likely 70-90% share.    

Moreover, the DOJ will examine the telecom marketplace to see if it exhibits the core characteristics of a competitive market:

Handset Exclusives Drive Growth & Broadband Adoption -- Why regulate tech/computer sales?

Handset marketing exclusives are a pro-competitive wellspring of wireless growth and broadband adoption. Marketing exclusives are also a legitimate, proven and widespread marketing practice that marshals maximum marketing resources for selected, potentially-hot-new-products in order to drive maximum sales and adoption.

What If Columbo Investigated Special Access?

A new coalition of some struggling broadband competitors, NoChokePoints.org, is making claims that the "special access" market is being "choked" by lack of competition and is urging the FCC to reverse course and regulate lower prices for these competitors.

  • "Special access" is basically the business-to-business leasing market of the copper wire connections that link many buildings and cell towers to the Internet backbone at DS1 (1.5 Mbs) and DS3 (44.7 Mbs) speeds.

To solve this controversy and determine who is actually "choking," or holding up whom, I thought it would be instructive and interesting to consider how the beloved TV detective Columbo would apply his common sense questioning to get to the bottom of this whodunit.

Competition Works! New data shows U.S. wireless market most competitive in OECD by far

The latest wireless statistics submitted to the FCC today show that the U.S. leads the OECD in wireless competition, use and price; the U.S. is not falling behind.

  • These data show why:
    • Monopoly net neutrality regulations are unnecessary;
    • The U.S. leads the world in wireless broadband adoption and use; and
    • Broadband mobility is as important as broadband speed to U.S. consumers.  

The CTIA study is based on Merrill Lynch's research of OECD data. Please read the report's summary findings below:  

"The price per minute of service in the United States is the lowest of the 26 OECD countries tracked by Merrill Lynch.

Consumers in the United States have the highest minutes of use per month of the 26 OECD countries tracked by Merrill Lynch.

The Data Show Competition Works! Building Upon a Strong Broadband Foundation -- Part II

First quarter financial results prove that the success of the broadband sector's facilities-based competition, is an exceptionally strong foundation on which to build a National Broadband Strategy.  (See 1Q09 results: AT&T, Verizon, Comcast and Time Warner Cable, companies are listed by revenue size.) The results show:

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Q&A One Pager Debunking Net Neutrality Myths