Researcher Yochai Benkler explains why broadband Internet access is cheaper in other countries than it is here:

Last year my colleagues and I did a study for the Federal Communications Commission showing that a significant reason that other countries had managed to both expand access and lower rates over the last decade was a commitment to open-access policies, requiring companies that build networks to sell access to rivals that then invest in, and compete on, the network.

These countries realize that innovation happens in electronics and services — not in laying cable. If every company has to dig its own holes, the price of entry is too high and competition falters; over time, innovation lags, and the goal of broader and better access suffers.

I think this is a problem that is endemic in America. While we talk about the free market, the conditions for productive competition that benefits consumers are not present in many cases. For example, in America we have privately owned insurance companies and hospitals. If your state has only one private insurance provider and your town has only one hospital, there is no opportunity for competition to drive costs down.