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Summary:

Chris Holland looks at the successful French competitive landscape to underscore his personal belief in the importance of proper government involvement in regulating the deployment and operation of broadband infrastructure. He compares the state of today’s U.S. broadband competitive landscape to “a narrow sidewalk with a […]

Chris Holland looks at the successful French competitive landscape to underscore his personal belief in the importance of proper government involvement in regulating the deployment and operation of broadband infrastructure. He compares the state of today’s U.S. broadband competitive landscape to “a narrow sidewalk with a 2-story Verizon shopping center on it, and perhaps an SBC shop 2 miles down the road.” Growing up in socialist India, I shudder at the thought of Government involvement, but Chris is making a good case for it.

  1. I think if you look at any successful national BB roll-out, you find some government involvement (this could either be pro-active involvement, or a sense that the government needs to clear away obstacles.) In Japan, the government has been very aggressive in setting goals and ensuring those goals are met. Japan now boasts the fattest pipes around.

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  2. I think it really depends on the government and its objectives. If you have a government that sees connectivity as a serious, must-have priority, then sure, government involvement could be positive. But with the current US climate, I really can’t see anything good come of it. Too many special interests and too many companies at risk if things don’t go their way. What we’ve got right now is lousy, but I doubt doubt for a minute that it could be a lot worse.

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  3. *don’t doubt

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  4. “Most” Frenchmen == in cities.

    South Korea’s population density: 491 people/km^2. Japan’s population density: 337 people/km^2.
    France’s population density: 110 people/km^2.

    United States of America’s population density: 30 people/km^2.

    Over one-sixth of France’s population lives in the urban area (equivalent to a US MSA) of Paris, and about 40% of the population lives in the urban area of one of the ten largest cities. The percentage of the Japanese population in the Tokyo area is immense.

    In the USA, the NYC MSA is around 18 to 19 million people, out of a population of 300 million. (2004 and 2006 estimates, respectively.) The top ten MSAs contain around 80 million people.

    The US government has been highly involved in connectivity, at least in the phone business of universal service. The local incumbents are required to hookup people even in incredibly rural areas for the same price as everyone else. Some of these areas cost an absolutely amazing amount of money to hookup a few families, especially compared to the cost of operating in a populous area.

    The incumbent monopolies overcharge in populous areas so that urban areas can subsidize rural. Universal service forces them to do this. A competitive company allowed to operate just in urban areas could easily undercut the incumbents by not dealing with the hassles of universal service. The incumbents know this, of course, and thus fight to maintain their government-granted privileges. In this, the rural representatives (regardless of party, really) aid them, in order to preserve the urban subsidies to rural consumers.

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  5. Of course, while the FCC does require local loop unbundling, there have been constant lawsuits by both sides ever since the first regulations were issued, and court orders have forced the FCC to change the rules several times. There have and do exist bandwidth wholesalers, such as Covad, whose existence he acknowledges in the comments.

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  6. Why is it so out of the question to suggest that tax money go into funding broadband (through a USF or more directly)? The government spends money on all kinds of stuff and this has the potential for greater ROI (even if still negative) than most government programs. I’d rather see money going to improve broadband in Alaska than building a bridge to an island with 5 people on it, for example. This idea we have in the US that some things are only for government and some things are only for private industry is one of our more silly.

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  7. Superb! (I wrote something else and then I read below that I aint supposed ter. So I deleted it.)

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  8. Still… in France, subscriptions to broadband perform FAR lower than their advertised speeds, in our experience. Often less than half the subscribed speed. Dropouts are frequent and many buildings are not wired for faster connections.

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