Availability of Broadband Internet Access: Empirical Evidence
31 Pages Posted: 7 Aug 2018
Date Written: September 27, 1999
Broadband access is needed for the Internet to achieve its full potential, and how these services are offered is likely to have important implications for the extent of competition for communication services in the last mile. This paper describes a research project of the MIT Internet & Telecoms Convergence Consortium (ITC) into local Internet access and presents initial results from our empirical survey of the patterns of deployment for broadband Internet access in the United States, focusing on xDSL and cable modems as the two technologies that have been deployed most extensively to date. We were unable to find much evidence of residential xDSL deployments through the end of 1998; however, we did identify over 805 communities where cable modem services are now available. The demographics of these communities suggest that to date that these services are still not widely available, and where available, are concentrated in higher income, higher density markets -- as might be expected for a new technology. Moreover, when broadband access is available, consumers are unlikely to face competitive alternatives for providers. And, finally, the identity of the cable television provider has had an important impact on the likelihood that cable modems will be available. We suspect this result reflects differences in strategic decisions based on differing views of the attractiveness of broadband services and earlier decisions on the timing and extent of system upgrades. For example, MediaOne has been substantially more aggressive in deploying cable modem services than have carriers with typically lower-quality outside plant, such as Cablevision and TCI. While these results are not surprising, they are nevertheless important in helping to establish a baseline for continued research and in suggesting additional data requirements and questions that need to be examined to more fully understand the evolution of Internet access. In addition to the empirical data presented, we describe our future research agenda.
Keywords: Internet, Broadband, Telecommunications Regulation
JEL Classification: L96, L86, L98, L5, O3
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation