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Public and Private Ownership of British Industry 1820–1990$
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James Foreman-Peck and Robert Millward

Print publication date: 1994

Print ISBN-13: 9780198203599

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198203599.001.0001

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Competition in the New Network Technology Industries 1820–1870

Competition in the New Network Technology Industries 1820–1870

(p.10) 2 Competition in the New Network Technology Industries 1820–1870
Public and Private Ownership of British Industry 1820–1990

James Foreman-Peck

Robert Millward

Oxford University Press

This chapter looks at network technology industries between the years 1820 and 1870. It is inefficient to duplicate networks with high fixed capital costs. Additional considerations for public regulation in gas and water proved to be geographically inadequate extensions of supply and health and safety concerns, which were even more important in the areas of gas and water than in rail travel. In short, state policy in these years allowed for a certain amount of competition between networks, and the public was dissatisfied with the results. Because there was no second-hand market for railway tracks, gas and water pipes under the streets, or telegraph lines, once investment had been undertaken, the network company was committed to the industry; its fixed costs were often literally, as well as conceptually, sunk costs. New entry into the whole range of an established company's activities was therefore unlikely to be successful unless the competitor was both large and much more efficient.

Keywords:   Britain, networks, network technology industries, fixed capital costs, public regulation, gas, water, state policy, competition

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