Monday, April 28, 2008

Network sharing: government interference done right

Network sharing is gaining (a little) momentum in several places. Two recent ones stand out (below), also in light of Benoit's post on government involvement.
On the one hand, there is the traditional capitalist view of seeing every government involvement as negative. These s#%$bags screw up all the time. They should sell to the public, so that WE shall be in control, etc.
On the other hand, infrastructure investments require a long term view, which investors do not habitually seem to foster.

Forced or stimulated network sharing is one way for governments to get involved - even passively, without any dear taxpayer dollard/euros coming into play:
  • Switzerland: the regulator calls upon the mobile contenders (sunrise, Orange) to join forces by sharing their networks, in order to create stronger competition against Swisscom. In other words, governments can help by providing regulatory clarity, and by allowing companies to not take spectrum license conditions too literally (regarding sharing, trading, technology).
  • France: the government considers forcing MDU owners to fiber up their buidlings. In-home networking is a bottleneck in the (stalling) FTTH roll-out in France, so this could be helpful. (The next logical step could be to force municipalities to sink ducts in every single street they open up for any kind of repair work.)

I still believe there is scope for sensible government subsidies. New Zealand (or Singapore) may be a prime example, if the NZI gets its way.

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