Last updated: November 29, 2010 - 11:38am
Here's how US regulators do a broadband plan: talk about competition even while admitting there isn't enough, then tinker around the edges with running fiber to "anchor institutions" and start collecting real data on US broadband use. Here's how they do it in the UK: order incumbent telco British Telecom to share its fiber lines with any ISP who is willing to pay. In places where BT hasn't yet run fiber, order the company to share its ducts and poles with anyone who wants to run said fiber.
In the 14 percent of the UK without meaningful broadband competition, slap price controls on Internet access to keep people from getting gouged. Government regulations can't encourage innovation? That's not the way UK telecoms regulator Ofcom sees the world, and it takes a none-too-subtle dig at the US model. "Availability of super-fast broadband in the UK (some 46 percent of homes) is now ahead of most large economies where deployments have been funded commercially. In the US, AT&T and Verizon have upgraded their networks to cover 17 percent and 12 percent of households, respectively, while cable company Comcast is approaching coverage of around 35 percent of US households with super-fast cable broadband." In case you're not getting the message, Ofcom is prepared to bludgeon you over the head with it. "Aside from small urban countries with highly concentrated populations, like Singapore, the main countries which are currently leading in the rollout and take-up of super-fast broadband are those which have had significant government intervention to support deployment, such as Japan and South Korea."
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