Apr 15, 2014 fbook icon twitter icon rss icon

There Isn't Enough Broadband Market Choice to Prevent Bad Actors


network owners have argued that Network Neutrality is unnecessary because there

is sufficient competition in the broadband market to deter bad behavior. They argue

that if Verizon degraded access to a site or discriminated against the use of

one service in favor of another, they would anger customers who would move to another

network operators in the area.

Consumers must have robust competition and multiple choices for this theory to

work.   But such competition does not exist,

and it isn’t likely to exist in the foreseeable future.

Most Americans have access to two broadband providers — cable and DSL. That’s

it. These two systems dominate, holding over 98 percent of the residential broadband

market. The share of the market held by all the other broadband technologies

combined — satellite, fixed wireless, mobile wireless, and broadband over power

lines — has actually decreased

over the last few years.

A significant chunk of the

country has only one broadband provider, and 10 of millions of Americans have

none at all. This is hardly a competitive market. There is insufficient

competition between different technologies to produce any kind of deterrent

should one operator block our access to the free flowing Internet.

And if both the local cable and telephone companies are using their networks to

discriminate, the consumer is trapped. There is nowhere else to go.

That’s why nondiscrimination through Net Neutrality is so critical. Without

Network Neutrality, America 's

telephone and cable duopoly will leverage its market power over the network to

gain control over the content and application markets, establishing a handful

of wireline companies as the gatekeepers of the Internet.