Yet More Telecom Competition

by on January 17, 2006

Here’s another example of the ever-increasing competition in the telecom industry: BusinessWeek reports that Rupert Murdoch is considering investing a billion dollars to transform the DirecTV satellit network, which currently allows only one-way transmission of high-bandwidth content, into a full-fledged broadband network offering voice, video, and data service. That would put it squarely in competition with the cable industry and the Baby Bells, both of whom are moving toward that same type of “triple play” broadband service.

If Murdoch follows through with this, and if the Baby Bells roll out fiber-optic networks as planned, that will mean that most homes will have at least three options each for voice, video, and data services.

Actually, there are more choices than that: there are already a half-dozen mobile phone companies competing for voice business. For video, consumers have the option of broadcast TV, which now features crystal-clear picture due to digital transmission. And Internet Giants like Google, AOL, and Apple seem to be announcing new Internet video options every month. And for data, there are dedicated lines available at the high end, and dial-up modem access at the low end of the market, not to mention a growing number of WiFi hotspots. In short, the typical consumer has a dizzying array of choices for all of his telecom needs.

Why exactly are we still regulating these industries as though they’re natural monopolies?

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