Bronwyn Howell

Bronwyn Howell

Bronwyn Howell is a Visiting Fellow with AEI’s Center for Internet, Communications, and Technology Policy. 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. 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.
A pro-net neutrality activist attends a rally in the neighborhood where U.S. President Barack Obama attended a fundraiser in Los Angeles, California July 23, 2014. REUTERS

The damaging effects of a flawed Internet creation myth

In his 2003 article on network neutrality, Tim Wu made a fundamental error: He conflated product differentiation with price discrimination. This error has resulted in the promulgation of a flawed Internet creation myth — namely, that price and product differentiation on behalf of ISPs must be banned in order to preserve the Internet as its originators intended it to be.
Twenty20

If net neutrality advocates only knew how Tim Wu originally defined “net neutrality”

“It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble,” Mark Twain once famously quipped, “it's what you know for sure that just ain't so.” Mark Twain’s wisdom is something ardent advocates of net neutrality as it is currently viewed should consider when articulating the foundations of their beliefs.
Twenty20

Non-neutral net neutrality: Asymmetric regulation strikes again!

Back in the late 1990s and early 2000s, it was becoming evident that regulators had effectively “picked a winner” in the Internet marketplace by applying the provisions of the 1996 Telecommunications Act asymmetrically between phone companies and cable companies. While the former were required to provide regulated (and below-cost) access to selected “unbundled network elements” to their competitors, this was not the case for cable companies. Predictably, this significantly dampened phone companies’ incentive to invest in new infrastructure, leaving the market for the taking by cable companies.
Twenty20

Digesting the facts: Is more fiber-to-the-home good for Internet health?

In my last blog, I shared some data from the latest Akamai report of Internet speeds around the world. The selection of countries I mentioned revealed a curious observation: Internet access speeds in Japan, Korea, and Singapore declined in the past quarter; Korea and Japan’s speeds have declined for the past year. All of these nations can lay claim to high fiber penetration rates — off the back of generous subsidies and other government interventions that support aggressive fiber rollout and uptake. On the other hand, speeds in countries that have not aggressively pursued subsidized national fiber networks — such as the UK and the USA — have shown consistent and sustained speed increases, on average, over the same period of time. These results say a lot about what investments are necessary in order to build and maintain lightning-fast, “future-proof” networks.
Twenty20

Playing fiber “policy monopoly” is a risky game

Competition in international policymaking is unequivocally a good thing. When different jurisdictions adopt different policies, comparisons allow everyone to learn about what works best under different circumstances — which better informs future policy. If all jurisdictions adopted the same policies — in other words, a “policy monopoly” — then the policy environment would be as moribund as markets dominated by one-size-fits-all commercial monopolies.