Today, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler gave a speech announcing that all Americans should have access to broadband capable of downloading 25 mbps. The Chairman also acknowledged that the market for broadband at 25 mbps or higher is uncompetitive, frequently with only a single provider offering these speeds.
The following may be attributed to Harold Feld, Senior Vice President at Public Knowledge:
“People say the first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem. Today, Chairman Wheeler becomes the first FCC Chairman to acknowledge what American businesses and consumers have known for a very long time – we are not getting the broadband speeds we need at prices we can afford. We loudly applaud Chairman Wheeler for defying an army of broadband industry lobbyists to speak the truth about our slow and uncompetitive broadband market
“Even as broadband providers brag to Wall Street about reducing capital investment and report record profits, the cost of broadband access to American consumers has been steadily rising. As anyone who knows economics can tell you, that only happens where providers have market power.
“Whether it’s students doing homework online, our growing dependence on storage of information and applications in the cloud, or the ever-expanding streaming economy, yesterday’s speeds just don’t cut it as more and more of our daily activity takes place online. But while they say the first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem, that is only the first step. Chairman Wheeler has the right diagnosis for our broadband ills; now we need to see the cure.
“To protect consumers and promote competition, Chairman Wheeler needs all the tools available to the FCC. With this understanding of the market, we don’t see how allowing any further consolidation of the broadband market can possibly make broadband better, as Comcast and AT&T have claimed. We also hope that the Chairman recognizes that, in a market where today’s broadband providers have a stranglehold on the future, allowing any kind of paid prioritization is an invitation for broadband providers to act as Internet gatekeepers and toll collectors.
“As much as we hope that nascent competitors like Google Fiber will grow, we have spent too much time hoping for a miracle. If the FCC wants to see new competitors, it needs to act on pending complaints by competitors that incumbents already use their market power to smother competition. The T-Mobile Data Roaming Petition, special access reform, and interconnection issues all provide ways for Chairman Wheeler to apply his understanding of the broadband market in ways that will give Americans real broadband choices.”
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