Observations of an Internet Middleman (Level3) (was: RIP Network Neutrality (was: Wow its been quiet here...

Tom Hill tom at ninjabadger.net
Sun May 11 23:55:10 UTC 2014

On 10/05/14 20:40, Phil Bedard wrote:
> The UK only does this with BT OpenReach since they were the telco monopoly
> that originated as a government entity.  Virgin Media (well all the people
> who now form Virgin Media) built and operates their own fiber/HFC access
> networks, the same as MSOs in the US, and does not offer wholesale access
> and isn't treated as a utility.  There are areas in the UK Virgin serves
> where the wholesale network does not, and areas where they offer much
> faster speeds, which is the same exact scenario as we have here

I think Patrick was more trying to highlight that there is nothing 
stopping Openreach and Virgin Media from building their last miles in 
the same markets, side by side. They do so in many cases, and compete 
fairly equally for that business.

Or, for that matter, anyone else: Metronet[1] are busy building their 
own wireless infrastructure around the UK, and City Fibre[2] are running 
fibre up to everyone's door in a number of cities. Wholesale agreements 
are part and parcel of the business, as is the consumer choice to switch 
provider without penalty.

(And, just to clarify, you *can* buy wholesale Ethernet leased lines 
from Virgin Media Business, just not the DOCSIS access services.)

These examples are really only scratching the surface; the point is that 
you can switch providers to your heart's content. Or just build your 
own, should you have the means. There isn't a granted monopoly on 
end-user access in the UK (anything else is due to economics, and for 
that, see B4RN[3]).

I won't claim to hold the magic recipe for ensuring fair choice for 
consumers, and the UK market is far from perfect, but so far it's 
sounding a hell of a lot saner than what's happening in the US.


[1] http://www.metronet-uk.com
[2] http://www.cityfibre.com
[3] http://b4rn.org.uk/

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