Technological Determinism and Its Discontents
37 Pages Posted: 24 Apr 2015
Date Written: 2014
This book review takes a critical review of the claim advanced by Susan Crawford in Captive Audience that the merger between Comcast and NBC Universal would harm consumers and that policymakers should instead promote common carriage regulation and subsidize municipal symmetrical gigabit fiber-to-the-home (FTTH). First it evaluates the extent to which next-generation digital subscriber lines (DSL) and wireless broadband technologies can serve as effective substitutes for cable modem service, identifying FCC data showing that the market has become increasingly competitive and likely to continue to do so. Furthermore, the market is not structured in a way that would permit the combination between content and conduit to harm competition. Furthermore, past attempts to recalibrate the balance between content producers and distribution channels have had the unintended consequence of reducing incentives to invest in network infrastructure. It can also deter technical leadership and innovation within the communications platform itself.
Keywords: antitrust, DOCSIS 3.0, FiOS, U-verse, VDSL, mobile broadband, 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE), horizontal integration, vertical integration, Online Video Distributors (OVDs), Netflix, Open Connect, sports programming, financing and syndication rules (finsyn), state owned enterprises, municipal fiber
JEL Classification: G34, K21, K23, L96, O31
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation