I have seen situations where a lively competitive market has placed commodities in the hands of many in a manner where there is very little thought about whether one can afford it or not.
But how I see a competitive market is where there is increased value for money in the provision of the goods and services. This is where you would buy a good-quality product which offers whatever you need at a modest price.
The best example of where a lively competitive market for services is what has been happening in mainland France over the last 10 years where the fixed-line telecommunications and broadband Internet services are being offered at very reasonable prices. This has been protected by telecommunications authorities and competition authorities assuring access of competing providers to local telecommunications wiring or infrastructure.
Compare this to what his happening in the USA where the value of fixed broadband Internet is decreasing as most markets see only an incumbent telephone provider and one of the large cable-TV providers offer this service. There have been recent activity in the Washington Post about Comcast engaging in price discrimination when it comes to the broadband they offer as well as persistent activity to frustrate the offering of municipal-provided Wi-Fi hotzones in some communities.
As for products, where there are competitive standards which are implemented without vendor tie-in, there is a breeding ground for innovation where manufacturers are free to design interesting products and offer them at cost-effective prices. This makes the concepts that the products embody affordable for most, if not all, personal and business users.
It also allows those of us who want to pay for the best to do so without being shut out from what is commonly available. In the same vein, one can pick and choose, mix and match the right combination of products to suit their exact needs and desires.
What needs to happen is that a certain standard has to be looked for when identifying whether there is real competition in the supply of a product or service and whether this really leads to a situation where people get the most “bang for the buck”.