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Economic Experiments and Neutrality in Internet Access

In: Innovation Policy and the Economy, Volume 8


  • Shane Greenstein


Economic experiments yield lessons to firms that can be acquired only through market experience. Economic experiments cannot take place in a laboratory; scientists, engineers, or marketing executives cannot distill equivalent lessons from simply building a prototype or interviewing potential customers and vendors. The historical record illustrates that economic experiments were important for value creation in Internet access markets. In general, industry-wide returns from economic experiments exceed private returns, with several important exceptions. Those conclusions motivate an inquiry into whether regulatory policy can play a role in fostering the creation of value. The net neutrality debate is reinterpreted through this lens. A three part test is proposed for encouraging economic experiments from both broadband carriers and providers of complementary services.
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Suggested Citation

  • Shane Greenstein, 2008. "Economic Experiments and Neutrality in Internet Access," NBER Chapters,in: Innovation Policy and the Economy, Volume 8, pages 59-109 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberch:5302

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Alleman, James & Rappoport, Paul, 2005. "Regulatory Failure: Time for a New Policy Paradigm," MPRA Paper 2517, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Bruce Owen, 2007. "The Net Neutrality Debate: Twenty Five Years after United States v. AT&T and 120 Years after the Act to Regulate Commerce," Discussion Papers 06-015, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
    3. Farrell, Joseph & Weiser, Philip J., 2003. "Modularity, Vertical Integration, and Open Access Policies: Towards a Convergence of Antitrust and Regulation in the Internet Age," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt4dh7q2dd, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
    4. Downes, Tom & Greenstein, Shane, 2007. "Understanding why universal service obligations may be unnecessary: The private development of local Internet access markets," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 62(1), pages 2-26, July.
    5. Ashish Arora & Andrea Fosfuri & Alfonso Gambardella, 2004. "Markets for Technology: The Economics of Innovation and Corporate Strategy," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262511819, January.
    6. Annabelle Gawer & Rebecca Henderson, 2007. "Platform Owner Entry and Innovation in Complementary Markets: Evidence from Intel," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 16(1), pages 1-34, March.
    7. Stranger, Greg & Greenstein, Shane, 2008. "Pricing in the shadow of firm turnover: ISPs during the 1990s," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 26(3), pages 625-642, May.
    8. Jerry A. Hausman & J. Gregory Sidak & HalJ. Singer, 2001. "Cable Modems and DSL: Broadband Internet Access for Residential Customers," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(2), pages 302-307, May.
    9. Tom Downes & Shane Greenstein, 2000. "Universal Access and Local Commercial Internet Markets," Discussion Papers Series, Department of Economics, Tufts University 0017, Department of Economics, Tufts University.
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    Cited by:

    1. Ernkvist, Mirko, 2015. "The double knot of technology and business-model innovation in the era of ferment of digital exchanges: The case of OM, a pioneer in electronic options exchanges," Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Elsevier, vol. 99(C), pages 285-299.
    2. Huang, Kenneth G. & Murray, Fiona E., 2010. "Entrepreneurial experiments in science policy: Analyzing the Human Genome Project," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 39(5), pages 567-582, June.
    3. Greenstein, Shane, 2010. "Innovative Conduct in Computing and Internet Markets," Handbook of the Economics of Innovation, Elsevier.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • L5 - Industrial Organization - - Regulation and Industrial Policy
    • L86 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - Information and Internet Services; Computer Software
    • L96 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Transportation and Utilities - - - Telecommunications
    • O31 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Innovation and Invention: Processes and Incentives


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