Thursday, June 01, 2006

Water, Broadband, Everywhere

My international readers may be surprised to hear that the UK is in the throes of a drought. Yes, one of the rainiest countries on earth has a water shortage - allegedly.

Turkey, Spain and New Mexico have no problems, but Surrey does.

Water in the UK was privatized by Margaret Thatcher around 20 years ago. Major water suppliers are now owned by overseas companies; the whole of London's water is controlled by the German company RWE and some other regional companies are owned by government held French companies. Clearly, water shortages mean they can charge more for their 'product'.

So, I hear you ask, what does this have to do withTV on IP? Well, as there are moves to charge premium prices in the US for last mile delivery, in the UK broadband is becoming a free commodity thanks to players such as TalkTalk (Carphone Warehouse) and Orange.

It strikes me that this is the water business. You declare a shortage and you can charge more. But there really isn't a shortage and the companies promoting this are being Neptune - holding back the inevitable tide.

The disingenuousness of UK water companies will come back to haunt them, as will the attempt of US broadband carriers to become monopolies.

Water is a human right, but broadband is a differentiator that stops remote areas and rural communities from competing unless it is regulated for.

Believe me, I've spent my life promoting free enterprise, but I still believe that certain utilities should be entitlements, not priviledges for the rich.

There is no shortage of bandwidth, but you may be hearing about a drought any day now

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