On a tangent to Frank’s discussion on the costs of corruption, I asked myself a slightly related question.
While I am of the opinion that government should be kept to a minimum, and that the market should be largely left to it’s own devices, I am dismayed by the lack of broadband in this country. I would like to put existing arguments concerning the legacy of state monopolies and local loop unbundling aside for a moment and ask a straight forward question.
Should the government have mandated several years ago, that all new housing estates be piped for fibre to the kerb or even fibre to the home technology? I ask that given that the housing boom has led to something like half a million houses being built in quite a short space of time.
Now I can imagine that a person in favour of free markets would say – if the market does not demand this technology, then developers will not provide it. And if people do demand it, they will either ask for it, or specifically choose a development that does incorporate it.
But is there not a bigger picture? Is there not an argument that says economies that have implemented such policies (Korean and Scandanavian models come to mind) have benefitted from the foresight, and that such government interference has actually led to the market benefitting from something that, if left to it’s own devices, may not have happened?
I know it sounds like I’m saying the governments knew best, but it puzzles me that given such massive house building we are still in the same situation we were a decade ago – copper to homes where DSL may not reach.
It may have been sensible for developers to approach ISP’s or TV stations and offer a deal to cable homes with extremely fast connections, both to save money digging roads up again later, and give companies instant access to customer’s homes without a proxy like eircom – or even to enable a huge amount of homes to have technology that may not be available to them over copper.
Did Korean people demand super fast broadband and then benefit from it, or did the government see the benefits in advance and force it on a market that did not see the potential positive future effects on the economy?
Incidentally Cringely’s piece this week covers a similar subject.