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.
Twenty20

Ice cream illustrates why you don’t need to fear zero rating

On a recent panel, AEI’s Roslyn Layton and Stanford University Law School’s Barbara van Schewick debated the impact of zero rating on competition among application and content providers. The debate was noteworthy for more than just the icy weather conditions that necessitated panelists unable to present in person to video stream themselves in. Layton argued that zero rating allows competing providers to differentiate their offerings from established providers. In this way, new entrants can attract users in a crowded marketplace where existing providers have already cultivated application-usage habits and preferences. Layton cited strong advocacy for zero rating by small ISP entrants as evidence that it facilitates, more than harms, competitive entry.
Twenty20

Government-funded fiber broadband: Not as straightforward as it sounds

As public interest groups continue to press for government-run fiber networks here in the US, it is instructive to look to a country that has already gone down that path: New Zealand. It has been seven years since the New Zealand government promised to cover around 25 percent of the cost of deploying 100 Mbps-capable fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) network reaching 75 percent of the population by the end of 2019. The first lines were laid more than four years ago, so the project is technically around its halfway point. However, all has not gone according to plan.
Twenty20

The hypocrisy of the anti-paid prioritization movement

In the network neutrality debate, much has been made about the “problem” of paid prioritization — where an ISP agrees to prioritize traffic from one source over another as part of a commercial exchange. Net neutrality advocates argue that paid prioritization violates the sacred rule of the Internet: that all bits should be treated equally. Yet few of these advocates have acknowledged the hypocrisy of arguing against paid prioritization among content providers without voicing the smallest of concerns about the same business model on the consumer end.

Flat-rate pricing: The Internet has changed and so should our pricing models

It has become an article of faith for some broadband advocates that “flat-rate” (i.e. unmetered or uncapped) pricing of last-mile Internet connections is an inviolable artifact. These advocates view any attempt by providers to bill customers in proportion to the volume of traffic generated (for example, charging a fee for traffic in excess of generous “caps”) as an affront to a set of principles allegedly conceived by the Internet’s progenitors and bequeathed to subsequent generations of users. Providers who charge in such a manner are vilified for daring to deviate from the sacred flat-rate pricing principle. Is it really the case that flat-rate pricing is a sacrosanct design principle of the original Internet? Or was it simply a pragmatic response to a number of techno-economic characteristics prevailing at the time?

Internet speed: How fast is fast enough?

Much has been made of the apparently woeful average speeds of United States broadband connections. Despite evidence of large absolute increases in average Internet speeds, some advocates are concerned that the US is somehow "falling behind" smaller and more densely-populated countries such as Korea, Latvia, and the Netherlands. This supposed lag has been used to bolster calls for greater federal and municipal investment in local broadband infrastructure, particularly Fiber to the Home (FTTH) networks for the 20% of residences currently unable to access local networks at speeds meeting the FCC’s definition of broadband (25 Mbps downstream, 3 Mbps upstream). The argument is that it is somehow imperative that the US has the fastest Internet connections in the world, and that to deliver anything less is somehow a “failure” that necessitates government intervention. This line of reasoning is problematic for a number of reasons.