16 Jul 2009
Robert Hahn discusses his recent paper responding to the US Federal Communications Commission’s request for guidance in designing a national broadband plan. William Dutton responds from a comparative perspective with a response to the Digital Britain Report.
Robert Hahn and Scott Wallsten: An Economic Perspective on a US National Broadband Plan (PDF, 770kb) (8 June 2009)
This paper responds to the US Federal Communications Commission’s request for guidance in designing a national broadband plan. It argues that the US market for Internet services is working well overall, as evidenced by nearly ubiquitous coverage, rapid adoption, large investments, and increasing speeds. Still, the market is not working well for all people in all places, and the paper offers a framework for considering policies intended to mitigate those issues.
The core of the paper consists of nine recommendations. Two of our recommendations are general. First, the government should ensure that its interventions do more good than harm. Second, the government should define clear, measurable, goals that do not benefit particular firms, technologies, or regions. The remaining seven recommendations provide specific guidance for a US broadband plan.
They include: liberalizing spectrum, gathering and analyzing data on broadband demand, targeting resources to where they are most needed, defining broadband access to maximize social gain, designing mechanisms that will achieve the government’s broadband goals at the lowest social cost, vigorous antitrust enforcement, and designing policies to facilitate rigorous evaluation.