August 23rd, 2014
Fiber initiatives, such as by Google, are being framed by a debate over universal service versus letting the marketplace decide. This is the framing for example of today’s WSJ article on Google Fiber Rollouts. This leads to a bias against such initiatives, as if they are undermining access to the Internet. This issue would be better framed as one of a number of approaches to enabling more competition in the broadband marketplace, which such initiatives are likely to foster, and targeting public policy initiatives on addressing areas that are not being well served by the marketplace. In this instance, the US could learn from the UK, which has arguably more competition for broadband services, and is seeing increasing efforts to focus public infrastructure spending on areas, such as deep rural areas, where the marketplace is not effective in providing adequate access to broadband, mobile and other telecommunication services.