Internet Access is Not a Monopoly; Why Regulate It That Way?

The Internet ecosystem tends to move faster than government regulations are able to keep up with.

In the United Kingdom, the goal for some years has been to provide ubiquitous 30 Mbps Internet access. Under the current definition, “super fast” access is said to be 30 megabits per second.

But U.K. cable TV networks, which reach about half of U.K. households, are able to provide Internet access at speeds up to 100 megabits per second, on their own networks.

One still finds data collection on “fiber to home” capabilities, for example. But that simply ignores all the other ways ISPs already are providing service between 100 Mbps and 1 Gbps, on alternate commercial networks.

Some might argue there is no alternative but reliance on a single network. But that is not the case for a growing number of countries, where two or, in some cases, three fixed high speed access networks are commercially available.

Telecommunications is no longer a natural monopoly. Neither, it appears, is high speed Internet access. Maybe we should stop framing telecom policy matters as though monopoly still exists.

That is not to say some degree of market power might yet exist. But policy seems always to lag reality in markets and technology.

So policy might need to look more at where we are going, and less at where we happen to be at the present moment. Different decisions might then be deemed feasible.


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