The majority of countries with the most successful broadband deployments have opened up the networks of their main carriers to competing service providers, according to a draft report issued by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission. The report, by Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society, analyzed findings from a variety of market-oriented democracies in an effort to understand what approaches are the most successful at ensuring that citizens have adequate high-speed Internet access. Most of the highest ranked countries use open access policies in which the incumbent carriers must allow competitors to lease capacity on their networks to offer their own services. In comparison, the United States established open access rules in the Telecommunications Act of 1996, but has backed away from implementing them early in this decade, according to the report. The study found that open-access policies were a major contributor to the success of many first-generation wired network transitions, and is now helping second-generation wired rollouts. Japan, South Korea, Sweden, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom are among the countries that have used open-access rules to foster strong broadband markets. In most measurements of broadband success, the United States ranks in the middle of developed countries, according to the study’s analysis. The U.S. ranks 15th on broadband penetration per 100 people, and 19th in 3G wireless penetration. However, the U.S. ranks fifth in both median upload speed and in a broad measure of prices for low-speed broadband, and ninth in the number of Wi-Fi hotspots per 100,000 people.
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