Market Power in U.S. Broadband Services

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38 Review of Industrial Organization (March, 2011), 151-71.  Thomas W. Hazlett, Professor of Law & Economics, George Mason University School of Law, Dennis L. Weisman, Department of Economics, Kansas State University.

The U.S. telecommunications industry has come under scrutiny amid concerns that regulatory policies have been too permissive. These concerns are perhaps most prominent in the residential broadband market where there is a perception that the “duopoly” between telephone carriers (DSL suppliers) and cable TV operators (cable modem services) has given rise to anti-competitive behavior. The presence of market power is a testable hypothesis that cannot be deduced solely from market shares or price-cost margins. We develop an economic analysis that incorporates both static and dynamic factors to examine the extant marketplace evidence. The data suggest that “duopoly” broadband providers do not generate supra-competitive returns. Public policies to regulate broadband providers should be informed by these market conditions.

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