Free Markets

by Colin Berkshire

We Americans are proud of our “Free Marketplace” and capitalism. But I think sometimes corporations try to confuse us about what this means.

Corporations try to sell the idea that a “Free Marketplace” means one free of regulation. But this isn’t correct at all. 

A Free Marketplace is one which has a level playing field and where companies can openly compete and consumers can make informed decisions to choose the best company.

A key component to a level playing field and informed consumers is access to information that is important to making a decision.

American Health Care is one of the most messed up parts of our culture and this is evidenced by the fact that Hospitals refuse to publish their prices. Without published prices there cannot be competition or informed consumers.

The cellular industry is another industry that hides consumer-essential information.

All cellular companies should be required to identify the location of their towers. This would let consumers truly see service coverage and truly know which carrier provides service where it is needed.

It has always surprised me that the cellular carriers are not required to show maps with their tower locations. The notion that tower locations are proprietary is nonsense and anti-consumer.

I’ve had access to tools that plot tower locations. (Every tower broadcasts its longitude and latitude) and so tools are available that receive these signals and map them.)

What has always surprised me is how far apart US cellular towers are compared with other countries. They can be many miles apart in the US. In other countries they are often blocks apart. In the US you are lucky to have three or four towers within range. In Asia it is not uncommon to have over a hundred towers available and in range.

The reason cellular service is to terrible in the United States is because we don’t have the information to be smart consumers. It’s time for this to change.

Hospitals should be required to publish their prices. Cellular companies should be required to map their towers. A Free Marketplace is one where the consumer is king.