Competition in the market for broadband Internet access remains alive, despite what can look like a concerted campaign by big business and government to abolish it. The latest such steps were a Supreme Court ruling and a Federal Communications Commission vote that allowed cable and phone companies to block competitors from their networks.
Be glad that competitors are still around: The phone and cable incumbents still fall short of many customers' needs, and it's up to other companies to meet them.
But as long as telephone and cable TV lines are the only affordable ways to pipe data to and from a house, any challenger to Comcast, Verizon and their ilk must first go into business with them. The competitor has to rent a phone or cable company's wires -- lines installed under a government-sanctioned monopoly -- to reach any customer's home.And it provides a suggestion:
The government needs to do its job as well. As a start, the FCC should turn its recent broadband policy statement -- a declaration that customers should be able to access any legal Internet site and run any legal Internet application -- into an enforceable regulation. The commission also needs to ease the progress of other forms of broadband, such as wireless data services. And it has to watch for abuses of the remaining rules.