That is definitely not the norm. Most people won't be able to simply switch to the least nasty provider.
As well as making exclusive franchise agreements illegal.
You'll find that nearly all examples commonly presented of the lack of competition, are not due to market lock-out, it's due to the high cost and time required to gain approval to build in a given town or city. The combined cost, with pre-existing competition entrenched, is a very large disincentive. Google Fiber didn't grind to a halt on their build-out because they couldn't legally access markets, it's because it's painfully expensive and very slow.
There are three solutions to the problem: new technology that bypasses (low earth orbit satellite, wireless); lower the total cost to enter markets and compete; mandate shared access to existing infrastructure (and ideally simultaneously lower the other market entry costs).
Upton Sinclair's "It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it" seems relevant here.
It's illegal, but it's also murkey enough that it can be made effectively exclusive through permitting delays, etc.
If the incentives were flipped (say, a federal road fund multiplier that scaled with average speed * number of options), I feel like we'd have a lot more competition.
As is, in the contracts I've read, they're essentially "ISP gets a non-exclusive franchise right in exchange for paying local government x% of their fees from the area, and both parties agree that the portion rebated to the local government may not be separately itemized on the bill."
Which sets up some pretty perverse incentives for most part-time commissioners.
We don't do that for Internet because...
We've gone far beyond reducing regulation to ensure that innovation is possible--we've restructured regulation to ensure that doing business is practical only for the major industry players who now write our legislation.
This does not include wireless broadband options. Could the competitive situation be better? Absolutely. But it is, in fact, the "norm" to have a choice.
In Mountain View I had only shitty DSL or shitty cable. Both sucked and cable was very expensive. (This may be different now. My experience was 8 or so years ago.)
I happen to be lucky to have actual high speed Comcast now, with an option for FTTH from Centurylink, plus DSL. Most people’s options are not so good.
Very true. In one city where I have a house, the choice is 4 megabit DSL for $60/month, or 300 megabit cable for $101.
Both are considered "broadband" by the FCC because the DSL is "up to" 8 megabits. But they are not equivalent services.
There's also a wireless ISP, but it's $95/month for 5 megabits.
There was a proposal to roll that back, however it didn't succeed.
You'll find that companies like Verizon do not call their slow DSL services "broadband." In Verizon's case they say: "High Speed Internet (DSL) service."
If you look at Verizon's DSL page:
You'll see they can't call their actual service broadband if it's not up at 25mbps. Instead they throw the "broadband" term around on other things on the page, such as "broadband routers" and they call themselves a "broadband provider" (referring to their FiOS offering).
If we count satellite, doesn't everyone in the US have "access" to broadband?
It doesn't matter for cord-cutters and people like me, who just want to pay for a $30 / month 100 Mbit internet connection without TV, cable, wireless data, HBO, etc. I've lived in several countries outside the US (including 'developing' ones, and this seems possible everywhere but N. America).
None of the providers will sell a $30 / month vanilla internet connection. Either you can get the absurd $20 / month 1Mb down (which they were required to provide for low-income families) or the next higher speed includes Cable, premium channels, rental boxes, etc. You aren't getting out of it without paying $60 / month which ends up being $70 after all the taxes and fees, increasing to $75 next year, etc.
But we have a "choice" of providers, so we're competitive! This is in sfbay peninsula.
Is a choice between two providers a meaningful enough number for spontaneous commercial differentiation and competition to produce access which provides good value for consumers, and a level playing field for online competition?
That chain of causality is the argument for the benefits of deregulated market-based competition.
I'm not sure the linked report provides much evidence of that. Especially in the context of streaming video, the proportion of households that have 3+ providers for a 25mbps connections appears to be less than 20%. Excluding wireless connections (expensive and unreliable) that number appears to be less than 10%.
Comcast, ATT, and Spectrum's ceiling of profit is the difference between the cost of delivering services and the potential cost of installing a competitive network.
And it's far easier to increase the latter than innovate and decrease the former.
And, for the record, wireless is not a viable competition for copper, let alone fiber. The available bandwidth by the most cutting-edge offerings is too low and latency is too high.
all a WISP has to do to compete is offer more bandwidth than the throttle allows with no bandwidth shaping at a competitive price.
The WISP also has to be resilient against Comcast removing the cap at a lower price (at least until the WISP folds). And against being bought out by Comcast. And against Comcast's lawyers and lobbyists (the wireless spectrum being a government controlled and finite resource).
i live in Utah, and i have several ISP options pretty much anywhere along the Wasatch Front, including fiber and wireless. i can't speak for anywhere else, but its not like its impossible.