Dan Getachew wrote:
> On the other hand, I am sure that the PTT/Ethiopian Government could
> institute a policy that the ISP's would have to also provide
> non-commercial entities like the universities and colleges, with
> subsidized Internet connection so that the use of these services
> would also be made available for the reasons outlined by Jeff's
> original message.
Agreed. A competitive market would not be incompatible with the
social goals of developing education and research activities using the
Internet. However, forcing ISPs to give free access may make the
competition unfair (unless you can make all ISPs share equally the
"non-profit" traffic, which is not possible), create opportunities for
corruption, and may turn the non-profit users into second class
customers who get less attenton and service.
I prefer such incentive based approaches. The government can give ISPs
tax incentives to connect certain institutions. Equivalently, it could
give these institutions vouchers that they can use to pay any ISP.
Alternately, as long as the national PTT owns the physical
infrastructure, it would offer discounts on leased lines to the ISPs
which provide service to those areas. Thus, the subsidy is achieved,
and, because universities (for example) will have as much choice as
anyone else, competition is enhanced, and the ISPs will give more and
The same principle can be used to help rural connectivity, or other
sectors which are deemed disadvantaged. However, care must be taken
that the subsidized entities be very narrowly defined.