General

At the Harvard Business Review, Larry Downes explains the vast divide between broadband in the U.S. and the E.U. The numbers are startling. As he writes:

[T]he U.S. has seen nearly a trillion and a half dollars in private investments for cable, mobile, fiber, and next-generation copper/fiber hybrid services. This has helped contribute to the development of innovative Internet-based businesses, where 11 of the top 15 Internet businesses, most started in the last decade, are U.S.-based, with the rest coming from China. None are from Europe.

In chart form, that gap in investment looks like this:

Downes also explores the levels of competition on either side of the pond, once again finding the U.S. — with its light-touch regulation — is far ahead of the E.U.:

Most damaging to an argument in favor of continuing the European policy of mandatory unbundling is the devastating impact that policy has had on infrastructure investment. Since 1996, and even during the most recent recession, private network operators in the U.S. have spent freely, racking up investments of $1.4 trillion — over 20% of the world’s total Internet infrastructure. The result is that the U.S. now has multiple high speed networks using a variety of wired and mobile technologies, including fiber optics, high-speed cable, VDSL (high-speed fiber/copper hybrid), 4G LTE and satellite.

Downes goes on to examine the differences in availability and adotion between the U.S. and E.U., so you should head on over the Harvard Business Review to get the full story. But for now, this section of his story sums matters up nicely:

The U.S. doesn’t have a perfectly functioning broadband market (or any other market), but a bi-partisan decision by Congress to leave broadband Internet access largely unregulated since 1996 has clearly worked better than the opposite approach taken by the Europeans. The European Commission is right to be working quickly to overhaul an obviously failed strategy.