How One Little Cable Company Exposed Telecom’s Achilles’ Heel
Susan Crawford

Tim Sylvester let’s take a step into your alternate universe where Title II doesn’t exist. Pray tell, what causes CableOne to get a healthy dose of competition in, say, Port Aransas, TX? What infrastructure gets used, who does the overbuild, and what does CableOne do in return?

I’m in a market that benefits from the kind of competition you’re talking about. Except basically all of that competition happened while Title II was in effect. Hasn’t seemed to stop the four wireline ISPs in my area (in order of widely available gigabit: Google, Grande, AT&T, Spectrum). Yes, those last three only have the speeds they have because Google announced we (Austin) would be their third (after Kansas City and Provo) market. But Google’s investment in their network doesn’t appear to be hinged on Title II.

Nor does any other competitive third-pipe (Grande, Wave Broadband, WOW, Sonic, RCN) provider publicly lament Title II. If anything, it means the incumbents have to fight fairly, rather than forcing content providers to subsidize consumer broadband across noncompetitive areas, using that subsidy to drop predatory pricing on anyone who dare compete…the latter has happened in Canada with Shaw (cable company in BC). The peering policies and general network experience is more unfettered with these competitive providers, not less.

That’s not even mentioning the dozens of cities (Chattanooga, Tennessee, Longmont, Colorado, Wilson, North Carolina, and Salisbury, North Carolina, for example) that have decided that the cavalry would never come for them, and thus set up their own fiber networks as part of the electrical utility (which…actually makes a ton of sense). Title II didn’t prevent any of that. However you won’t see anything like that in Texas, because AT&T had a nice little law written to prevent those sorts of shenanigans. Tell me again which regulations stifle competition?

But, back to my original questions.

First, what does dropping Title II get Port Aransas vis a vis its current CableOne overlord? How does this competition of which you speak spring into existence? How does it work in ways that Title II prevents? As fair warning, I’ve gone as far as building a business plan for a wireless ISP and know folks in the industry at smaller ISPs, so you’ll have to be more specific in your statements than you’re used to being.

Second, what’s your reasoning on why wireline last-mile internet shouldn’t be classified as a utility? Yes, I’m aware that Australia’s NBN doesn’t do gigabit, and that it’s a half measure of a system. Please use another counterexample because my bet is you’d say the US is a unique market if someone gave you a positive example elsewhere (South Korea, Japan, Hong Kong, Sweden).

Thanks in advance for your reply!

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