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The tyranny of distance prevails: HTTP protocol latency and returns to fast fibre internet access network deployment in remote economies

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  • Mark Obren
  • Bronwyn Howell

Abstract

Public policies to deploy enhanced local broadband access infrastructure in locations physically very far removed from the firms and customers with whom they transact are frequently justified by claims of increased competitiveness arising from the elimination of the ‘tyrannies of distance’. Yet relative distance-based disadvantages remain in respect of time-dependent applications and those hosted on distant infrastructures or requiring data sourced from distant locations. Trading off the effects of faster local access and latency on the time taken to load a Web page based on the HTTP Web protocol, we demonstrate that the increasing returns to distance rapidly overcome the effect of faster local access bandwidth as the distance the data must travel increases. We conclude that claims that investment in ultra-fast local broadband access will unconditionally facilitate a step-change in national economic performance are without foundation. In the absence of some compelling underlying competitive advantages, the ‘transformational’ economic benefits will be local rather than international in nature. At best, government investment in nationwide fast fibre networks is a defensive strategy that enables ongoing participation in the international economy, but at relatively higher costs than those faced by larger economies in closer proximity to end markets. Copyright Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Suggested Citation

  • Mark Obren & Bronwyn Howell, 2014. "The tyranny of distance prevails: HTTP protocol latency and returns to fast fibre internet access network deployment in remote economies," The Annals of Regional Science, Springer;Western Regional Science Association, vol. 52(1), pages 65-85, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:anresc:v:52:y:2014:i:1:p:65-85
    DOI: 10.1007/s00168-013-0574-0
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Edward L. Glaeser & Joshua D. Gottlieb, 2008. "The Economics of Place-Making Policies," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 39(1 (Spring), pages 155-253.
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    3. Lewis Evans & Patrick Hughes, 2003. "Competition Policy in Small Distant Open Economies: Some Lessons from the Economics Literature," Treasury Working Paper Series 03/31, New Zealand Treasury.
    4. Bryn Battersby, 2007. "Does distance matter?: The effect of geographic isolation on productivity levels," OECD Economic Studies, OECD Publishing, vol. 2006(1), pages 205-225.
    5. Hervé Boulhol & Alain de Serres & Margit Molnár, 2008. "The contribution of economic geography to GDP per capita," OECD Journal: Economic Studies, OECD Publishing, vol. 2008(1), pages 1-37.
    6. Bronwyn HOWELL & Arthur GRIMES, 2010. "Productivity Questions for Public Sector Fast Fibre Network Financiers," Communications & Strategies, IDATE, Com&Strat dept., vol. 1(78), pages 127-146, 2nd quart.
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    Cited by:

    1. Craig, Steven G. & Hoang, Edward C. & Kohlhase, Janet E., 2017. "Does closeness in virtual space complement urban space?," Socio-Economic Planning Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 58(C), pages 22-29.
    2. Alizadeh, Tooran & Grubesic, Tony & Helderop, Edward, 2020. "Socio-spatial patterns of the national broadband network revealed: Lessons from greater Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane," Telecommunications Policy, Elsevier, vol. 44(5).

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    O18; O33; R11; R12;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • O18 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Urban, Rural, Regional, and Transportation Analysis; Housing; Infrastructure
    • O33 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes
    • R11 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - Regional Economic Activity: Growth, Development, Environmental Issues, and Changes
    • R12 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - Size and Spatial Distributions of Regional Economic Activity; Interregional Trade (economic geography)

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