U.S. needs competitive Internet infrastructure

By Susan Crawford

The New York Times

Published: Sunday, Jan. 27 2013 12:00 a.m. MST

The FCC's Connect America Fund, which is supposed to promote such expansion, is mostly funneled back through existing communications companies. This isn't the way to encourage new wired network providers to enter local markets. Nor will voluntary programs run by local monopoly cable distributors like Comcast meet our country's needs.

Finally, the FCC must foster more competition by changing the rules that keep the status quo in place. There is a raft of regulations and processes at the FCC that incumbents wield to maintain their market power, including rules about access to programming and to telephone poles that prioritize existing providers. The agency has ample administrative power to fix these details and to gather the information it needs to develop and enforce effective policies.

We have allowed our affection for consolidation and profit-taking to shape our country's ability to compete on the global stage. Although today's communications networks should make it possible for anyone to create value, communications companies that control access in America have the ability to crush competition and innovation.

With a truly pro-competition agenda at the FCC, we could discover great reservoirs of increased productivity and new forms of making a living. Contrary to what giant companies like Comcast and Verizon would have us believe, communications regulation does not stymie entrepreneurial behavior. It unleashes human ingenuity.

Susan Crawford is a professor at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law and the author of "Captive Audience: The Telecom Industry and Monopoly Power in the New Gilded Age."

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