The Development of Broadband Access in the OECD Countries
The development of broadband access to the Internet is gaining increasing prominence. This is occurring in fields that go well beyond communications policy. One reason for this is the role advanced communication capabilities may have played in generating higher growth in productivity rates, as well as new networkbased economic activities, in some countries over recent years. If, as many believe, new communication tools such as the Internet and wireless networks boosted growth in the latter half of the 1990s, and softened the current cyclical downturn, then the next steps toward broadband access are of critical importance that go beyond the communications sector. The current bottleneck to growth in the communications sector, and beyond for areas such as electronic commerce, is the limitations of local access networks. These limitations are not just technological. The inheritance of many decades of monopoly provision of access networks is that there is usually only one, or at best two, networks passing most homes and businesses in OECD countries. In some cases the same company still owns both these networks.
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