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.