Broadband Competition in the 21st Century: A Transatlantic Perspective

The debate over broadband policy transcends national boundaries and has become even more important in the current economic environment as the financial crisis leads the U.S. to include broadband in its economic stimulus efforts and the EU to consider something similar. Since the mid-1990s information and communications technologies have contributed substantially to economic growth, productivity improvements, and, thus, higher living standards on both sides of the Atlantic.

As a result, broadband policy cannot be viewed as just a “regulatory” or a “telecom” issue, but also as one that interacts significantly with the broader macro-economy. In particular, the broader economy affects broadband investment and adoption and vice-versa. The current financial crisis and the industry interact in two important ways.

First, broadband infrastructure is very capital intensive, meaning that changes in credit markets can have big effects on investment. In the current crisis, tight credit markets and the high cost of capital mean that investors may require a higher expected rate of return on their investments than they did in the recent past. Second, broadband has given consumers new ways to react to the economic downturn and to help restore growth that were not possible in any previous recessions, ranging from searching for jobs online to new avenues for entrepreneurship.

Michael Bartholomew, European Telecommunications Network Operators’ Association
Marc Bourreau, Paristech
Gilles Delaunay, MICUS Management Consulting
Martin Fornefeld, MICUS Management Consulting
Norbert Gaal, DG Competition, European Commission
Raul Katz, Columbia University
Tom Kiedrowski, Ofcom
Thomas Lenard, Technology Policy Institute
Andrea Renda, CEPS
Scott Wallsten, Technology Policy Institute

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