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

  • Thomas Downes
  • Shane Greenstein

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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File URL: http://ase.tufts.edu/econ/papers/200615.pdf
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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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  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. Gourieroux, Christian & Monfort, Alain & Trognon, Alain, 1984. "Pseudo Maximum Likelihood Methods: Theory," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 52(3), pages 681-700, May.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Cameron, A Colin & Trivedi, Pravin K, 1986. "Econometric Models Based on Count Data: Comparisons and Applications of Some Estimators and Tests," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 1(1), pages 29-53, January.
  6. 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.
  7. Bresnahan, T.F & Reiss, P.C., 1989. "Entry And Competition In Concentrated Markets," Papers 151, Stanford - Studies in Industry Economics.
  8. 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.
  9. Downes, Tom & Greenstein, Shane, 2002. "Universal access and local internet markets in the US," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 31(7), pages 1035-1052, September.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. Allan Shampine, 2001. "Determinants of the diffusion of U.S. digital telecommunications," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 11(2), pages 249-261.
  13. Strover, Sharon, 2001. "Rural internet connectivity," Telecommunications Policy, Elsevier, vol. 25(5), pages 331-347, June.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
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