When you hear a politician, a lobbying group, or a corporate executive yammering on about leaving the free market alone, don’t fall for it. Many businesses today are built around finding that industry -- or that particular anomaly within an industry -- where market forces simply don't apply. Then, they exploit the heck out of it for big profits. Late fees on credit cards, for example -- who shops around for those? Or hotel safe fees that get automatically tacked onto your bill. Call this the "un-free market" at work.
Broadband Internet access has long existed in this un-free market. For a long time, many U.S. consumers had only one Internet access provider, the very definition of an un-free market. Now, most people have two options -- an improvement, but duopolies rarely behave like free markets.
The Federal Communications Commission released the results of a year-long, scientific study of 13 U.S. broadband providers, focused on whether firms like AT&T, Verizon, Qwest, Frontier, and others live up to their marketing materials when delivering high-speed Internet service. For the first time, the firms are being held to their promises, and consumers can find out if they are getting what they are paying for.