Compare that to telecom policy in the U.S. Years ago, the government broke up Ma Bell, only to end up with more regional monopolies. Then, the U.S. government passed the Telecom Act in 1996, in theory to prompt more competition. For a brief moment, it looked like that might happen. But eventually, rules about costs of sharing networks and other factors such as weak enforcement of competition rules drove many telecom startups out of business.
Instead, the incumbents went on a consolidation binge, with the U.S. government demanding only modest concessions as they rubber-stamped deal after deal. Today, your choices are pretty limited. As a result, the incentives to invest in network infrastructure are low, and costs are high.
As the Times story says: “For relatively high-speed Internet at 25 megabits per second, 75 percent of homes have one option at most, according to the Federal Communications Commission — usually Comcast, Time Warner, AT&T, or Verizon.”
Of course, it would seem impossible that someone will stand up in the near future and demand that the U.S. government play a stronger role. Politicians and regulators would be cowered by an army of telecom lobbyists and pundits who would chew their heads off.
But the real problem is that the average American has bought into this false choice: government vs. competition. And so, they are not going to insist on the new regulations and stronger enforcement that might a lead to more competition.
Instead, expect that for years to come, you’ll continue to overpay for crappy broadband. This is the price you pay for being suckers, and it’s a big one.