Bronwyn Howell

Bronwyn Howell

Bronwyn Howell is general manager for the New Zealand Institute for the Study of Competition and Regulation and a faculty member of Victoria Business School, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. She is a board member and secretary to the board of the International Telecommunications Society. She was formerly visiting research scientist at the Helsinki University of Technology. Building on both her formal education in economics and public policy, and her experience as a practitioner in the information technology sector in New Zealand and internationally, Bronwyn researches, teaches and writes on a broad range of matters concerning the Information Economy. Her publication portfolio includes journal articles, book chapters, monographs, working papers and presentations on technological diffusion, intellectual property rights and the contracting for and pricing of information goods. In recent years she has focused on competition and regulatory policy, and the evolution of industry interaction in the telecommunications and information communications technology markets. An area of particular interest has been the comparative effects of different forms of competition and regulation on market performance, especially in small, remote economies such as New Zealand.
Fiber-optic cable by Shutterstock.com

Another cost of government-funded broadband: Labor market distortion

Australia’s government-funded National Broadband Network (NBN) has provided rich pickings for analysts looking for evidence that government-funded grandiose new fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) networks almost always turn out to be much more expensive than taxpayers are led to believe at the proposal stage.
Unbundling by Shutterstock.com

Unbundling broadband to promote competition: A “fix that fails”

Recently, Canada adopted regulations forcing fiber network operators to allow their competitors to resell services provided by the operators over their own infrastructures – a practice known as “unbundling.” The regulations are intended to increase competition in retail ISP markets, bringing benefits to consumers as prices fall and different services are bundled in with the connection. A simple thought experiment shows why this is rarely the actual outcome.
Internet history by Shutterstock.com

The danger of using history to guide modern Internet policy

What should guide the decisions of today’s policymakers when it comes to the Internet? Net neutrality proponents tend to argue that policymakers should look to the values held by the Internet’s pioneers. But as it turns out, using modern interpretations of old values makes for very bad policy. Here’s why.
Copyright infringement by Shutterstock

Battling copyright infringement online: The role of ISPs takes shape

Since every piece of Internet traffic passes through an ISP at some point, what sort of responsibility – if any – do ISPs have when copyright infringement takes place on their networks? This and related questions are currently top of mind for judges, lawmakers and policymakers around the world. In New Zealand, the question has been taken a step further as industry participants and observers debate a case where ISPs are accused of being active participants in copyright breaches. The debate has been brought about by a court action by four major content rights holders against a handful of ISPs, arguing that the ISPs instigated copyright violations by providing consumers “click-based” access to technologies that allow them to circumvent geo-blocking. The final decision in this case will help define the role of ISPs in online copyright infringement, but could also have broader implications for the commercial structure of the Internet.
Universal service by Shutterstock

Universal service: A policy for social or corporate welfare?

Universal Service policies exist in most telecommunications markets around the world. But the devil is in the details of the exact arrangements under which the policies are enacted. In Australia, the Department of Communications is currently undertaking a review of the country’s universal service arrangements. In response to the review, Vodafone Australia has proposed that the universal service obligation be funded by a tax on industry participant profits, rather than a tax on connections as is most commonly observed in other countries (including the US). Vodafone’s proposal is deeply flawed as it confuses the policy objective of increasing competition in telecommunications markets with the universal service policy objective of securing a baseline level of communications services at reasonable prices for all consumers.