FORTUNE -- Despite the protestations of free-market purists (as if our communications networks operated in anything like a free market), it turns out that the countries with some kind of national broadband-deployment plan do better than those without. In fact, it's the main driver of increases in broadband penetration.
The International Telecommunications Union has issued a research report (PDF) indicating that of six major variables, the presence of a national broadband plan has the biggest effect on penetration, boosting it by an average of 2.5%.
Not to deny the impact of freer markets, another big factor is the relative absence of monopoly power. Moves away from monopoly and toward competition in the 10 years ending in 2011 increased the level of fixed broadband by about 1.4% in the 165 countries studied. (Many of today's free-market purists, of course, tend not to see monopoly as necessarily impinging on competition -- to them, only the government can do that.) Competition had a much huger effect on mobile broadband penetration, increasing it by 27%. The presence of national broadband plans increased mobile penetration by an average of 7.4%.
Other factors boosting deployment included: urbanization, income levels, investment, and regulation.
The Economist Intelligence Unit concluded that the study "suggests to regulators that maintaining a telecoms monopoly is a sure-fire way to hinder the march of broadband."
The Senate hearings scheduled for Wednesday will only scratch the surface
Apple (AAPL) is conspicuously absent from the witness list for Wednesday's hearing on "The Power of Google" before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition and Consumer Rights. Yelp! and Nextag will be represented, but Google (GOOG) has stepped on a lot more toes than theirs to maintain and extend its dominance of the Internet's sustaining source of revenue -- advertising MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Sep 19, 2011 7:38 AM ET
How can this company, asks Brian S Hall, complain about anti-competitive behavior?
The open letter by Google's (GOOG) chief legal counsel attacking Apple (AAPL) and Microsoft (MSFT) and calling for government intervention (see here) has unleashed a flood of outraged responses, but none quite so full throated as the one posted by Brian S Hall on his Smartphone Wars blog.
The nut paragraph:
"If you have a monopoly business and generate monopoly profits and MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Aug 5, 2011 7:07 AM ET
Apple's CEO will have to answer questions in a six-year-old iTunes monopoly suit
In Nov. 2010, plaintiffs in the long-running "Apple iPod iTunes Anti-Trust Litigation" class-action lawsuit asked the presiding judge for permission to depose Steve Jobs. Apple's (AAPL) lawyers promptly filed for a protective order preventing the deposition.
What happened next is a little hard to follow, since so many of the relevant court documents are either redacted or sealed. But MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Mar 22, 2011 7:30 AM ET
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