Regulating Broadband Networks: Assessing the Global Data for Evidence-Based Policy

Bronwyn Howell, Economist, New Zealand Institute for the Study of Competition and Regulation

An examination of the historical context suggests that comparative analysis of the development of the New Zealand and United States industries over the past thirty years, and the more recent experiences of the past thirteen years as New Zealand has pursued industry policies with those firstly of Europe and latterly Korea and Japan, is informative for policy makers and practitioners in both countries. From being the most lightly-regulated telecommunications market in the OECD in 1999, New Zealand has now become in 2012 one of the most tightly regulated, with a fixed-line industry structure mandated to embody full structural separation and cost-based access pricing across all networks. The following empricial research is especially relevant for United States policy makers who so far have eschewed explicit regulatory intervention in Internet markets. New Zealand offers a viable set of experiences to inform US policy makers of what might occur if access regulation policies are applied partway through the diffusion of Internet technologies, as opposed to being in place in advance of that diffusion (as has been the case in most other OECD countries).

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