I get a kick out of big industries like cable & telephone companies asking for the freedom to compete until someone wants to compete with them.
Here is a great piece about Telecom competition & TV over IP.
Competition is always a good call
by Tom Giovanetti
When I built my home in rural Copper Canyon just over 10 years ago, I knew that I wouldn't have access to all the conveniences I was accustomed to. It was a long drive to the grocery store, and there was no pizza delivery, convenient restaurants, dry cleaners or cable TV.
Over the years, unfortunately, almost all of these conveniences have made their way to Copper Canyon. The highway leading to my home is now choked with grocery stores, restaurants and dry cleaners. But I still can't get cable TV.
I was never angry at cable companies because they didn't offer me service. I always understood that the local cable franchise simply made the business calculation that it wouldn't be cost-effective.
The same was true of my office building in Lewisville – no cable. When it became necessary for me to have access to C-SPAN, I did the only logical thing: I subscribed to satellite TV, both at home and at my office.
Was the cable company discriminating against me by not offering me access to its service? Well, yes, in a way, since the word "discriminate" means "to make a choice." But, no, not in the sense of offensive or prejudicial discrimination.
I have no inherent right to cable access. Cable access is simply a consumer good, not a necessity of life. So I was surprised to learn that cable companies are now demanding that their new competitors in the video business – telecom companies like SBC and Verizon – be required by law to offer their new video service to every single neighborhood in every city they enter.
How odd. When cable companies began offering phone service, they were never required to offer it to every cable subscriber. They rolled it out as they saw fit, as it made business sense, and where the most potential customers lived. In fact, to this day, cable companies do not offer voice service to all video subscribers.
What seems to be going on here is the same old story of companies lobbying for competitive advantage in legislation rather than in the market, or trying to hamstring their competitors with regulations – ironically, the very thing that telecom companies have always been accused of.
But the modern communications world is entirely unlike the past. Cable companies are offering voice, and telecom companies are offering video. Both offer high-speed Internet access, and all services are converging into a single market for data. Soon, voice will be free – simply a service you get from whomever you choose to be your data providers. Ultimately, everyone will be in the digital content business, and distinctions between cable, telecom, wireless and satellite won't be important.
Since this is clearly the direction that technology is headed, policy should be driven by technological reality and our laws should encourage robust competition. The winners will be Texas consumers, who will have access to the best combination of product and service, and the Texas economy, which will benefit from increased investment by all competitors.
Let's not saddle communications companies with the kind of regulations, franchise agreements, build-out requirements and taxes and fees that characterized communications policy of the past. We want new networks that carry new products and services. Let the competition begin.