The First Mile
I was at least wrong on the Network Neutrality debate. I was assuming that the current condition of a monopoly or duopoly with respect to broadband access will continue to exist. Mr Blog rightfully says what the real problem is: lack of competition in the first mile.
The main problem with creating a third broadband competitor is the amount of money it takes to build out a network. Even the incumbent telephone and cable companies haven’t managed to get broadband rolled out to their entire service area, not to mention the areas that aren’t servicable by either technology. The mobile phone carriers, who are mostly owned by the incumbent telephone companies, offer broadband-type speeds, but it too isn’t rolled out everywhere. It’s also priced above what most people would be willing to pay. Why? Because the carriers know that if more people used the service, it would get overloaded. That’s why they price it so high.
The only other “wires” that seems to run everywhere in this country are for power. Thus it makes sense to look at things like Broadband over Power Lines, which is said to cause a lot of interference to amateur radio operators and the like. Wireless Internet is also something people are looking at, but you typically run into “line of sight” problems, i.e. the signal can only travel as far as the eye can see. It’s cheaper than laying cable or fiber, but the speeds are slower and you have to deal with the same NIMBY twits that the mobile phone carriers have to deal with.
Maybe I’m getting cynical, but I’m not sure if anyone is going to be able to, in short order, build a reliable “alternative” network to that which the telephone and cable companies have managed to build.