What are the benefits of deregulation and increased competition?  From a New York Times article, here is what it has meant for Europe:

Half of the European Union countries could match the United States in broadband use by 2010, Ms. Reding said, if regulators take a tough stance to pry markets open. European Union broadband rates vary from 35.6 percent in Denmark to 7.6 percent in Bulgaria. The United States level was 22.1 percent as of July 2007, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

Ms. Reding emphasized her determination to encourage greater competition in the market and to give regulators the power to force “functional separation” — obliging the owners of telecommunications networks to free the networks from their operating divisions.

In seven member states, more than 60 percent of the broadband market is in the hands of incumbents, she said.

Ms. Reding adds, “The dynamic market force is new entrants”.

Improving rates of broadband usage indicate many things, but as the article shows, it is increasingly a mark of how well-suited a country is as an investment destination.  Definitely something for policy makers to take note of in Fiji.  Higher levels of broadband internet usage are signs of an educated population with a sophisticated understanding of technology–very important to drawing overseas investment capital in today’s global economy.

The second article is also from the New York Times and deals with the setbacks cities in the US have faced in trying to set up free and/or subsidized municpal wifi networks.  The failure to get these networks up is an indicator of how it is important to have a clear business plan mapped out before deploying such networks.  Yet again, it is a call for business leaders and policy makers to sit down and really think about what deregulation and broadening access to technology means for Fiji.  It is also important to note that these efforts precluded use of WiMAX technology–something that gives Fiji a considerable advantage.

Currently, FINTEL is acting very much in the manner of the European monopolies.  Widening access to the internet, especially how it has been described on this blog means that policymakers will to pull themselves together and challenge the way things are being done.

What these articles have in common is growing acceptance of the idea that high levels of internet usage are good for a society.  Improved education levels, quality of life gains, increased suitability as an investment destination, and improved emergency communications are just some of the benefits of wider broadband internet usage by a population.