Asserting that “significant questions exist about the extent to which broadband access markets are competitive,” the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) suggested that, as the FCC works to develop a national broadband plan, the FCC should undertake “a competitive market analysis that can be used as the foundation of ongoing regulatory policies governing broadband Internet access.” The FTC laid out its recommendations in comments that were filed last Friday with respect to the broadband plan that the FCC is required to submit to Congress next February. (The FCC also accepted comments last Friday on a related notice of inquiry that asks whether broadband and other advanced telecom services are being deployed to Americans in “a reasonable and timely fashion.”) Noting that more than 80% of U.S. consumers are able to select from only one or two broadband providers that, typically, consist of their local cable provider and/or local exchange phone service carrier, the FTC maintained that the broadband plan “should facilitate the operation of the free market process to the greatest extent possible” to “maximize incentives for businesses to enter, deploy risk capital and compete for customers, keeping barriers to entry as low as possible.” Because a simple count of broadband providers within any given area does not show “how competitive markets are or how well consumers are served,” the FTC argued that “an analysis of price and market share information for broadband services in properly defined product and geographic markets . . . can help illuminate existing entry barriers and identify appropriate regulatory responses.” Suggesting that a broadband service may be deemed adequately competitive if consumers would turn to that service “if their existing providers increase price or reduce quality,” the FTC added that wireless broadband could be considered a viable competitive alternative if it “appeals to a sufficient number of marginal cable modem or DSL broadband consumers to constrain the provider’s pricing activity.” The FTC also called upon the FCC to “develop a firmer understanding of the facts relevant to network management practices and their effects on consumers.”