ICT for dummies
May 14, 2010 11:21 PM   Subscribe

Where can I learn - in a hurry - the technological basics of the telecommunications/internet infrastructure?

I need to write an (economics) essay about price competition and oligopoly in the telecommunications industry across different countries. I've been googling around a bit but I'd like to know if anybody is aware of some good resources where I could learn about the existing state of communications infrastructure in different countries, and some sort of explanation of the different technologies involved.
posted by moorooka to Technology (5 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
This Berkman Center report has an overview of different countries' broadband policies.
posted by null terminated at 12:01 AM on May 15, 2010

ICT4D has resources here
posted by infini at 2:41 AM on May 15, 2010

this is a for profit but the blog tends to link to recent reports on the state of the world, see top posts
posted by infini at 2:43 AM on May 15, 2010

this report is said to have the latest data
posted by infini at 5:08 AM on May 15, 2010

Look at the historical perspective. This Wikipedia page has links to a discussion of telecomms development in various countries (see the links to the right of each region, under the heading "Telecommunication by region" towards the bottom of the page).
For example, the UK had *much* slower internet diffusion, which led to much slower uptake of websites and online retailing by businesses in the UK. This was because of two factors:
1. The dominant business model for call-pricing. Local calls were charged by the minute and local call areas were tiny. It could be extremely expensive to connect to a dial-up internet service and this discouraged many people from experimenting.
2. British Telecom, the dominant player in the market, retained its regulatory powers even after telecomms in the UK were deregulated. Competitors' network offerings could take months to years to be approved and the process of approval was extremely expensive. This discouraged real competition in any new area of technology. I am not saying that this was a deliberate business strategy, although many people at the time believed so. It may have been just a structural consequence of the approval process.
Even now, the UK lags behind most of Europe (and well behind the USA) in the geographical diffusion of broadband and the network speeds offered. The majority of network infrastructure still seems to be owned and maintained by BT (or Cable & Wireless, a BT company). Infrastructure companies account for the majority of ISPs, which seems to indicate that the barriers to entry are supported by existing market structures).
In the USA, where telecomms deregulation was implemented in a different way, there was a great deal more competition between ISPs because the cost of entry was low as there were no structural barriers (TelCos were required to sell access to infrastructure networks at a reasonable cost, if I remember correctly). The dominant business model was that local calls were mostly free (priced into a TelCo pricing bundle) and local call areas were larger. So the cost of entry for providers was lower plus the cost of experimentation for consumers was low. Market diffusion (uptake by consumers) was commensurately higher, which in turn encouraged more new entrants, and so on. Businesses adopted online retail business models because there was a critical mass of consumers.
This is just a comparison of two different national markets. It is worth looking at the history of various global regions, to see what are the differences.
posted by Susurration at 2:52 PM on May 15, 2010

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