Digital platform regulation: What are the proposals across Europe?

Calls to ‘do something’ about tech giants are getting louder. Some suggest that breaking them up is the best way to go, but such strong intervention is absent from the most developed regulatory proposals seen so far. Taking into account recent prominent reports from (or for) the European Commission and several national competition authorities, what are the main proposals on the table, and are they plausible?

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All for broadband and broadband for all

In the run-up to last week’s UK General Election, the main political parties supplemented headline-grabbing policy announcements around Brexit policies and the NHS with outlines of their plans for supporting investment in key national infrastructure. Among the announcements were those in support of ensuring that all homes and businesses should have access to very high capacity broadband. With the Conservative Party now in power and promising to deliver gigabit-capable networks for all by 2025, we ask how can this be achieved?

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EU broadband: co-investing in a faster future

Rolling out very high-capacity networks (VHCNs) across Europe to deal with ever-increasing broadband demands is challenging. To incentivise investment, the European Commission has introduced new conditions relating to co-investment agreements, including a promise (subject to certain conditions) not to regulate SMP operators that enter into an investment agreement with at least one other operator. Peter Culham, Senior Adviser, Felipe Flórez Duncan, Partner, and Michael Weekes, Senior Consultant, ask: is it enough to unlock investment in VHCNs?

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Fairness and competition in online markets: friends or foes?

Fairness is emerging as an increasingly important policy goal across sectors. We set out a framework for assessing fairness concerns, and examine the relationship between the aims of competition policy and fairness in current debates. Do the European Commission’s platform-to-business initiative and reputation systems for sharing platforms lead to fairer processes? And do online price differentiation and negotiations between platforms and content creators lead to fair outcomes? What is the role of competition in all of this?

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It’s what you know about who you know: market power in digital platforms

In the digital services market, platform operators compete for the attention of consumers. However, there are increasing concerns about their degree of market power, which can be difficult to assess using the traditional tools of competition and regulation. As calls for further regulation increase, authorities must ensure that their interventions do not lead to unintended consequences, such as reducing the gains that such platforms bring to society

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AT&T–Time Warner: ‘Humans and Econs’ in merger assessment

In June 2018, the US District Court issued its decision to clear the proposed merger of AT&T and Time Warner, following an in-depth investigation and subsequent lawsuit by the Department of Justice (DOJ)—making this the first vertical merger to go to trial in the USA in 40 years. Oxera Partner, Maurice De Valois Turk, discusses the economics underlying the DOJ’s main theory of harm and why did it not convince the court

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Consumer data in online markets

Businesses increasingly use consumer data to offer better and more targeted digital products and services. Many of these new business models rely on data to facilitate transactions and generate revenues in a way that was not previously possible. Access to personal data has understandably raised concerns about privacy. Based on a study commissioned by Which?, we investigate the delicate balance between privacy and the value of digital services

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Discrimination or differentiation? Price discrimination as an abuse of dominance

When does price discrimination by a dominant firm amount to an abuse? Is the mere existence of a price difference sufficient? A recent ruling by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) provides some guidance on these questions, highlighting the ability to distort competition as a key criterion for a finding of abuse. Taking an economic perspective, we look at the CJEU’s approach and consider the implications for other cases of discrimination more broadly

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Regulation 2018: ‘back to basics’

The UK is experiencing a backlash against the liberal orthodoxy of utility regulation of ten years ago, which was based on privatisation, competition and deregulation. A recent Agenda article on the legitimacy of sectoral regulation in the UK asked ‘Is it policy, ownership, industry structure, governance, financing or regulation that is driving the problem?’ Martin Cave, Visiting Professor, London School of Economics, provides his perspective

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How best to create an enduring framework for investment in world-class broadband connectivity in the UK?

The Future Telecoms Infrastructure Review by the UK Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) is investigating ‘what longer term changes could be made to market structures and policy frameworks to encourage investment’, and is aiming to reach initial conclusions in the summer. In the spirit of open and constructive debate, Emily Clark, Chief Economist at BT Group, sets out BT’s emerging thinking on what UK policymakers can do to support investment in ultrafast broadband networks across the UK

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Legitimacy and renationalisation: where next for utility regulation?

UK regulated utilities are facing the tightest scrutiny that they have experienced in years. A tit-for-tat battle between the two main political parties in proposing changes to address public concerns has culminated in the Labour Party proposing renationalisation and the Conservative Party greater regulatory supervision. So what is the regulatory outlook for customers, companies and their investors in the context of the renationalisation agenda and other recent developments?

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