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A thread on the #Labour Labour Party's #BroadbandForAll policy. There are three elements: 1; #zero price #freebroadband, (2) #Nationalisation and (3) #monopoly.
Zero Price. One argument for zero price is that there are positive externalities and network effects for bringing everybody to the same high level service. A second is And that leaving poorer citizens and lower margin business behind is less inclusive.
Clearly charging those who can afford would make it less costly to the taxpayer, and be less regressive, but it is messy. But surely over time that would emerge? And behavioural insights might help design 100% take up with mostly positive pricing.
And there is evidence of how communication networks can drive economic innovation in society. See this paper on US post offices in the 19th Century economics.mit.edu/files/11927.
Or see the story of rural electrification in west Texas as described in Robert Caro's biography of Lyndon Johnson. Decent account here americanheritage.com/node/132467
Second, #nationalisation is not necessary to achieve any of this. One big risk with nationalisation is that delivery is inefficient, and policy and its benefits are captured by those employed in the nationalised business. If, this would be seen in slower and more costly rollout.
And it is tempting fate these days to set up a company called "British" (or "Irish", or any other nationality, or "national").
Labour has a point in saying that the private sector has failed to deliver. But that is in large part because of the the market power that #Openreach enjoys and weak regulation. So if #monopoly is in part the cause of our predicament, why continue that.
If #Ofcom had addressed the Openreach market power firmly and decisively, we might not be having this discussion.
Some of the new entrants in rolling out #fibre may be far faster and more efficient than #Openreach. So why not have level playing field #competition between all the suppliers in building the infrastructure? Choosing costly over cheap is a huge own goal.
And allow open access and downstream competition in providing the the service at retail level. Even if it is free, competition could improve quality and service.
If it does one thing, this proposal might start a public debate about the role that competition could play in getting faster universal roll out of broadband at the lowest possible cost. That is what we should be discussing.
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