FCC goes its own way on broadband plan

Cable apparently caught a break when the FCC commissioned and then disregarded a study by Yochai Benkler at Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet and Society on how best to develop the national broadband policy it will be introducing tomorrow. Benkler used international market research to suggest that the best way to develop national broadband at fair prices would be to encourage widespread competition by forcing big companies such as cable MSOs to share their wires with smaller ones.

"There will be enormous political resistance," Benkler predicted. "But at the same time the FCC has to get the next generation market structure right. Either you are willing to take the step to get more competition or you are engaged in cosmetics."

The FCC has a history with political resistance to opening networks so it apparently would like to avoid the hassle when it comes to promoting a national broadband plan. "Other countries tend to have broadband dominated by a single telecom carrier: the phone company," said Blair Levin, executive director of the FCC's broadband initiative. "The U.S. is very different. The majority actually subscribe through cable. It's not an apples-to-apples comparison."

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