FCC Chairman Calls for Meaningful Competition in High Speed Broadband
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler says that “meaningful” competition for high-speed broadband is “lacking,” and he has a four-point Agenda for Broadband Competition to bring broadband up to speed.
That came in a speech on the state of broadband competition at 1776, a D.C. based startup “incubator” whose founding partners include Comcast Business and Microsoft.
Wheeler said there was not sufficient competitive choice, and that included the difficulty of switching providers where there was choice. He pointed to the speed boosts in markets where competitors had weighed in. “A year ago, Cox Cable said it wouldn’t be upgrading to gigabit networks because it would cost billions. Now it says it will, starting with communities where Google and CenturyLink are deploying fiber.”
“Users cannot respond by easily switching providers,” he said. “As a result, even though there may be competition, the marketplace may not be offering consumers competitive opportunities to change providers, especially once they’ve signed up with a provider in the first place.”Wheeler said that just as he spoke at the beginning of his term about the Network Compact–access, interconnection, consumer protection, public safety and national security–there needed to be a competition agenda with basic principles for broadband activity.
“My goal is not to criticize, but to recognize that meaningful competition for high-speed wired broadband is lacking and Americans need more competitive choices for faster and better Internet connections, both to take advantage of today’s new services, and to incentivize the development of tomorrow’s innovations,” he said.
But he had plenty of stern warnings, including about the “gatekeeper” power of ISPs, the difficulty of switching providers, and the assertion that only fiber — like Google Fiber buildouts — can give cable a run for its money.