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  FCC level playing field is more of a brick wall

First Thoughts: The supply of Broadband to the masses was still on the mind of the FCC when it cast its vote to classify DSL as an information service, but the war has already moved on from getting the internet into the home, to getting new services put across it. FCC uses Supreme Court mandate to level internet playing field.

Leveling the playing field between RBOCs and cable operators was the intent, but the FCC has laid a huge, business threatening, blockage in front of any company that wants to build a competitive network that uses the last mile connections of either. It will be a long time before any investors back services that bump up against RBOCs, at least while this big business friendly administration remains in office.

Best effort internet is fine for web pages, and for downloading files, but it's not much good for anything else. Real time services require an end to end quality assurance and only one company, the one that builds and runs the network, can offer that assurance, and it is being encouraged only to offer that to its own businesses.

It's like a government allowing a single brand of carpet sweeper, another brand of vacuum cleaner and only one brand of brooms to exist and saying that it is trying to create competition in cleaning your home.

The last chance for free broadband competition in the US comes from wireless broadband networks, like the one that Sprint-Nextel plans to build, post merger. Eventually physical media like DVDs, retail device sales like HDTVs and file download services, will make the industry honest and force content to be charged at a non-monopolistic rates, but that may take a while.

Final Thoughts: Growth in broadband penetration in the US as a percentage of homes, is going to slow if the RBOCs fail to keep their lines open for competitive carriers once the FCC mandate to keep the open evaporates in one year.


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