An Economic Perspective on a U.S. National Broadband Plan

Robert Hahn, University of Oxford, Georgetown University
Scott J. Wallsten, Technology Policy Institute, Georgetown Center for Business and Public Policy, Stanford University, Economists Incorporated


This paper responds to the U.S. Federal Communications Commission's request for guidance in designing a national broadband plan. We argue that the U.S. market for Internet services is working well overall, as evidenced by nearly ubiquitous coverage, rapid adoption, large investments, and increasing speeds. Still, the market is not working well for all people in all places, and we offer a framework for considering policies intended to mitigate those issues.

The core of the paper consists of nine recommendations. Two of our recommendations are general. First, the government should ensure that its interventions do more good than harm. Second, the government should define clear, measurable, goals that do not benefit particular firms, technologies, or regions.

The remaining seven recommendations provide specific guidance for a U.S. broadband plan. They include: liberalizing spectrum, gathering and analyzing data on broadband demand, targeting resources to where they are most needed, defining broadband access to maximize social gain, designing mechanisms that will achieve the government's broadband goals at the lowest social cost, vigorous antitrust enforcement, and designing policies to facilitate rigorous evaluation.

Recommended Citation

Hahn, Robert and Wallsten, Scott J. (2009) "An Economic Perspective on a U.S. National Broadband Plan," Policy & Internet: Vol. 1: Iss. 1, Article 5.
Available at: http://www.psocommons.org/policyandinternet/vol1/iss1/art5