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posted by martyb on Friday June 20 2014, @01:34AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the opening-up-the-tubes dept.

Ars technica brings us: We don't need net neutrality; we need competition.

The network neutrality debate is a muddy one at best, with different people using the term in different ways. Regulatory enforcement of the idea would at best prove inadequate to achieve what people want. At worst, it might even prove harmful to innovation and progress, potentially outlawing existing widespread and harmless practices.

Net neutrality protects the dominant ISPs.

Network neutrality rules, however, do nothing to create this market pressure. The entire debate appears to take the uncompetitive market for granted: given that the ISP market in America is uncompetitive, substantially dominated by large providers with a range of local monopolies, how can we ensure that they do not abuse these monopolies too much?

The solution is to attack the monopolies head on. The incumbent ISPs obviously have a huge advantage over any putative challengers: they've laid hundreds of thousands of miles of copper, coaxial cable, and fiber to homes and businesses across the country. This last mile network would cost many billions of dollars to replicate, not to mention causing substantial disruption every time a road has to be dug up.

But the solution to this is well-known and practiced in a number of countries around the world -- including, at one time, the US: decouple Internet service provision from the last mile network. This is perhaps most abundant in the EU, where it goes by the name Local Loop Unbundling. The wired telecommunications market in Europe was largely dominated by a series of national monopoly phone companies. In order to promote competition, the EU required that these incumbent operators provide third parties access to parts of its infrastructure, in particular the "last mile."

This is an interesting idea of how to "fix" Net Neutrality, the last mile problem, and ensure competition. The article goes on to show the range of available options in the UK -- with the only downside being the initial hookup process time.

Could this idea be the way to fix the ISP problem in the US?

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