Despite arguments by many observers that U.S. fixed-line broadband access services are not competitive, it is a curiously "uncompetitive" market where speeds double every four years, for more than a decade, growing 20 percent a year over the last 13 or so years.
Prices are a harder thing to measure, given the changes in the basic product over time. In other words, what a consumer pays today for a broadband connection is not an "apples to apples" comparison, given the doubling of speed every four years. The "product" a consumer can buy today, for any nominal price, is a different product than was purchased four, eight or 12 years ago.
Nevertheless, the American Consumer Institute notes that, between 2004 and 20009 alone, Internet access pricing declined 23 percent.
Another academic study suggests cable modem prices grew 0.8 percent, while digital subscriber line prices grew five percent, between 2004 and 2009. At the same time, cable modem speeds increased 85 percent while DSL speeds increased 80 percent, that same study found.
On a cents-per-bit basis, cable modem prices declined 45 percent, while DSL cost dropped 42 percent. Over that same period of time, the consumer price index grew 14 percent.
Fuel prices increased 26 percent, food increased 15 percent, housing increased 13 percent, medical care prices increased 21 percent and education increased 32 percent.
It is a strange "uncompetitive" market indeed that has doubled "quality" (speeds) every four years while prices overall have declined 23 percent.
Some observers have suggested that the Google-Verizon (News - Alert) agreement on how to handle network neutrality is a concession by Verizon that fixed-line broadband actually is "uncompetitive," or at least not as competitive as wireless broadband is. Some observers might argue that Verizon has conceded nothing of the kind.
The FCC (News - Alert) study, one might argue, suggests that despite the apparent lack of competition in the fixed-line broadband market, the data suggest consumers are indeed reaping the benefits of competition.