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Understanding Why Universal Service Obligations May Be Unnecessary: The Private Development of Local Internet Access Markets

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  • Thomas Downes
  • Shane Greenstein

Abstract

This study analyzes the geographic spread of commercial Internet Service Providers (ISPs), the leading suppliers of Internet access. The geographic spread of ISPs is a key consideration in U.S. policy for universal access. We examine the Fall of 1998, a time of minimal government subsidy, when inexpensive access was synonymous with a local telephone call to an ISP. Population size and location in a metropolitan statistical area were the single most important determinants of entry, but their effects on national, regional and local firms differed, especially on the margin. The thresholds for entry were remarkably low for local firms. Universal service in less densely-populated areas was largely a function of investment decisions by ISPs with local focus. There was little trace of the early imprint of government subsidies for Internet access at major U.S. universities.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Department of Economics, Tufts University in its series Discussion Papers Series, Department of Economics, Tufts University with number 0615.

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Date of creation: 2006
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Handle: RePEc:tuf:tuftec:0615

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Keywords: Internet; Universal service; Geographic diffusion; Telecommunications;

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References

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  1. Shane Greenstein, . "Commercialization of the Internet: The Interaction of Public Policy and Private Choices," IPR working papers 00-11, Institute for Policy Resarch at Northwestern University.
  2. Grubesic, Tony H., 2006. "A spatial taxonomy of broadband regions in the United States," Information Economics and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 18(4), pages 423-448, November.
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  5. Allan Shampine, 2001. "Determinants of the diffusion of U.S. digital telecommunications," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 11(2), pages 249-261.
  6. Downes, Tom & Greenstein, Shane, 2002. "Universal access and local internet markets in the US," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 31(7), pages 1035-1052, September.
  7. Bresnahan, T.F & Reiss, P.C., 1989. "Entry And Competition In Concentrated Markets," Papers 151, Stanford - Studies in Industry Economics.
  8. Gourieroux Christian & Monfort Alain & Trognon A, 1981. "Pseudo maximum likelihood methods : theory," CEPREMAP Working Papers (Couverture Orange) 8129, CEPREMAP.
  9. Mini, Federico, 2001. "The Role of Incentives for Opening Monopoly Markets: Comparing GTE and BOC Cooperation with Local Entrants," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 49(3), pages 379-414, September.
  10. Goolsbee, Austan & Klenow, Peter J, 2002. "Evidence on Learning and Network Externalities in the Diffusion of Home Computers," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 45(2), pages 317-43, October.
  11. Goldfarb, Avi, 2006. "The (teaching) role of universities in the diffusion of the Internet," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 24(2), pages 203-225, March.
  12. Thomas A. Downes & Shane M. Greenstein, 1996. "Understanding the Supply Decisions of Nonprofits: Modelling the Location of Private Schools," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 27(2), pages 365-390, Summer.
  13. Emin M. Dinlersoz, 2004. "Firm Organization and the Structure of Retail Markets," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 13(2), pages 207-240, 06.
  14. Shane M. Greenstein & Mercedes M. Lizardo & Pablo T. Spiller, 1997. "The Evolution of Advanced Large Scale Information Infrastructure in the United States," NBER Working Papers 5929, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Augereau, Angelique & Greenstein, Shane, 2001. "The need for speed in emerging communications markets: upgrades to advanced technology at Internet Service Providers," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 19(7), pages 1085-1102, July.
  16. Compaine, Benjamin M & Weinraub, Mitchell J, 1997. "Universal access to online services: An examination of the issue," Telecommunications Policy, Elsevier, vol. 21(1), pages 15-33, February.
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Cited by:
  1. Gilbert Metcalf & Jongsang Park, 2007. "A comment on the role of prices for excludable public goods," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer, vol. 14(6), pages 685-698, December.
  2. Chris Forman & Avi Goldfarb & Shane Greenstein, 2009. "The Internet and Local Wages: Convergence or Divergence?," NBER Working Papers 14750, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Ioannides, Yannis M. & Soetevent, Adriaan R., 2007. "Social networking and individual outcomes beyond the mean field case," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 64(3-4), pages 369-390.
  4. Chris Forman & Avi Goldfarb & Shane Greenstein, 2014. "Information Technology and the Distribution of Inventive Activity," NBER Chapters, in: The Changing Frontier: Rethinking Science and Innovation Policy National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Chris CM Forman & Nicolas van Zeebroeck, 2012. "From wires to partners: How the Internet has fostered R&D collaborations within firms," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/105990, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  6. Darlene Chisholm & Margaret McMillan & George Norman, 2010. "Product differentiation and film-programming choice: do first-run movie theatres show the same films?," Journal of Cultural Economics, Springer, vol. 34(2), pages 131-145, May.
  7. Mack, Elizabeth A. & Grubesic, Tony H., 2009. "Forecasting broadband provision," Information Economics and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 21(4), pages 297-311, November.
  8. Kolko, Jed, 2006. "Why Should Governments Support Broadband Adoption?," MPRA Paper 3363, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  9. Darlene Chisholm & George Norman, 2005. "When to Exit a Product: Evidence from the U.S. Motion-Pictures Exhibition Market," Discussion Papers Series, Department of Economics, Tufts University 0522, Department of Economics, Tufts University.
  10. Shane Greenstein, 2006. "Innovation and the Evolution of Market Structure for Internet Access in the United States," Discussion Papers 05-018, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.

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