Re: [gaia] [hrpc] Fibre Feudalism

Amelia Andersdotter <amelia@article19.org> Sat, 20 October 2018 09:33 UTC

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Date: Sat, 20 Oct 2018 11:33:16 +0200
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Subject: Re: [gaia] [hrpc] Fibre Feudalism
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Hi all,

It might be helpful to know that EU countries where Universal Service
Obligations have been extensively used and applied, also typically have
worse infrastructure than EU countries where USO wasn't well applied.
Applying USO means you put the government in a position where it faces
off with the service provider under USO in a negotiation. The service
provider has information advantage and typically a better relationship
to its consumers than the government has to its citizens (so a
communications advantage too). I lack experience of the African markets
and their regulators, but in broad strokes those are the issues faced in
various European jurisdictions with USO and I'm assuming similar
difficulties would arise in the African setting. This is a bit
theoretical, and I'm just curious how to avoid these information
asymmetries?

As it is described by Steven, the current feudalism (operators A, B and
C all collaborate as soon as they own physical fibre networks) also
incentivises many actors to get into the infrastructure market. That's
fundamentally a good thing: it means not all the last-mile is owned by a
few big actors who need to be regulated by a regulator who is
fundamentally at a disadvantage compared to the big actors. It's the
main criticism targetting the Local Loop Unbundling reform of 1999 in
the EU as well - challengers don't invest enough in last-mile
infrastructure (except in those EU markets where many different actors
have had regulatory incentives to build their own networks, or where
there has been purposeful public investment in last-mile). Or am I
misunderstanding something?

best regards,

Amelia



On 2018-10-04 20:52, Steve Song wrote:
> Hi Mallory,
>
> Thanks for that!  I think you are on exactly the right track in terms
> of thinking about economic models.  Thanks to Erick Huerta of
> Rhizomatica, I am very taken with the thinking of French economic
> historian, Fernand Braudel.  Braudel argues that the world has three
> economies not one.  A global economy which is the well-known
> capitalist economic model where monopoly is the perfect end-game in
> theory for every player.  Google, Colgate, Coca-Cola, all the usual
> suspects form part of this economy.  The second economy is the Local
> Economy where services are specific to the city/community where you
> live.  This might be your local butcher, baker, plumbers or even
> larger service provider which offers services that grow out of local
> demand and which serve local needs in more unique ways than the Global
> Economy.  The third economy is the Subsistence economy where market
> forces may not operate because there is not sufficient traditional
> capital to make it work.  This is the world of the informal economy
> with barters, cooperatives, community initiatives that directly
> contribute to the overall economy but are largely unmeasured by
> traditional statistics.  And woven among these are both commercial and
> commons models, which can operate with varying success at the
> different levels.  
>
> When viewed through this lens, it is easy to see how regulation has
> only enabled the global economy in telecommunication and that there is
> a need for enabling regulations to nurture telecom initiatives in the
> Local and Subsistence economies.  
>
> For me this also highlights a key flaw in models like the World Bank's
> Access Gap model
> <http://blogs.worldbank.org/ic4d/the-gaps-model-and-universal-access>. It
> is not so much that the model is wrong, it is just one-dimensional;
> assuming that successful global capitalism is the best of all possible
> outcomes.
>
> Writing more about this shortly.
>
> Cheers... Steve
>
>
> On Thu, 4 Oct 2018 at 10:57, Mallory Knodel <mallory@article19.org
> <mailto:mallory@article19.org>> wrote:
>
>     Hi Steve,
>
>     Thanks for sharing. I read it last night and I really enjoyed it. I
>     think the metaphor is solid economically. And politically, well, that
>     could be another post in and of itself.
>
>     The agrarian commons would of course be ideal, but what we have is a
>     sort of old-world economic structure that politically controls and
>     profits from (what should be) the commons. This sets you up nicely to
>     call for modern economic models ranging from squarely capitalist to
>     socialist, and even (back to) the commons!
>
>     I'm CCing HRPC because it might be of interest to those who have
>     raised
>     issues of centralisation on the list in the past.
>
>     -Mallory
>
>     On 04/10/2018 15:30, Steve Song wrote:
>     > Hi all,
>     >
>     > This is a reflection on the current state of terrestrial fibre
>     > infrastructure in Sub-Saharan Africa (but I think applies just about
>     > everywhere).  
>     >
>     > https://manypossibilities.net/2018/10/fibre-feudalism/
>     >
>     > Curious to know how apt you feel the metaphor is or any other
>     reactions
>     > you may have. 
>     >
>     > Thanks.... Steve Song
>     >
>     >
>     > _______________________________________________
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>     > https://www.irtf.org/mailman/listinfo/gaia
>     >
>
>
>     -- 
>     Mallory Knodel
>     Head of Digital :: article19.org <http://article19.org>
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>
>     _______________________________________________
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>
>
> -- 
> +1 902 529 0046
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>
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-- 
Amelia Andersdotter
Technical Consultant, Digital Programme

ARTICLE19
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