Berkman Center releases study of broadband around the world

The Berkman Center for Internet & Society has posted a draft of its independent review for the FCC entitled Next Generation Connectivity: A review of broadband Internet transitions and policy from around the world. Berkman Center invites everyone to read it and participate in the public comment process (see FCC public notice). Among the findings of the report:

“The highest prices for the lowest speeds are overwhelmingly offered by firms in the United States and Canada, all of which inhabit markets structured around “inter-modal” competition—that is, competition between one incumbent owning a telephone system, and one incumbent owning a cable system. The lowest prices and highest speeds are almost all offered by firms in markets where, in addition to an incumbent telephone company and a cable company, there are also competitors who entered the market, and built their presence, through use of open access facilities.”

The study is a “review of existing literature and studies about broadband deployment and usage throughout the world” to assist the FCC in the development of a National Broadband Plan.

The FCC wants you to comment on the following:
1. Does the study accomplish its intended purposes?
2. Does the study provide a complete and objective survey of the subject matter?
3. How accurately and comprehensively does the study summarize the broadband experiences of other countries?
4. How much weight should the Commission give to this study as it develops a National Broadband Plan?
5. Are additional studies needed along the lines of the Berkman study?
6. Please provide any other comments on the Berkman study that you deem relevant.

For the full public notice, with directions on how to comment, see:

http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/index.do?document=293955

I have read the first few pages of the report (it’s over 200 pages). I find it to be a good overview of how policies adopted by other countries have shaped the nature of their local broadband markets. If you are curious about what’s happening in other places, how their policies affect fixed and mobile broadband quality and uptake, this report is for you. It also comes at a critical time: the FCC is about to impose net neutrality rules.

The report challenges the generally held view that countries with a lot of fiber networks got there via public investment. In fact, although Sweden, Japan and Korea have relied on long-term capital investments through expenditures, tax breaks, and low cost loans, the French government has barely invested public monies in fiber; it has instead created a highly competitive environment for communications companies through regulation.

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