A National Broadband Plan for Our Future: A Customer-Centric Approach

Gerald R. Faulhaber


Congress has recently charged the Federal Communications Commission to establish a National Broadband Plan. This paper argues that a customer-centric plan, which puts the customer in control of decision-making, will yield the best broadband result for the U.S. The Federal government must establish a market infrastructure that encourages competition, requires transparency of both network providers and application providers, and includes vigorous antitrust enforcement. Competition from wireless broadband is present now and will become far more prevalent shortly, on the basis of current and announced investment plans.

Regulators must also make available far more licensed spectrum to ensure this competition is realized. Calls for regulation in the form of mandated unbundling and more unlicensed spectrum are regulatory cul-de-sacs with proven track records of failure. Calls for regulatory control of network provider practices (other than transparency), such as network neutrality, are misguided. Such decisions are best left to customers, who can very well decide for themselves which of the broadband providers offer terms that best suit the customer.

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