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Competition law in the digital era

IIC UK Chapter Event

What do changing business models in the telecoms industry mean for competition law and regulation in the digital era?

20 September 2017, 1700 for a 1730 start
6 New Street Square, 15th Floor, London, EC4A 3BF

Competition in the ICT sector is a major societal debate today. Questions of dominance, disruption and fair play in the ‘Internet value chain’ are never far from the headlines. Convergence has made competition assessments and enforcement increasingly challenging.

Much of the attention of regulators and policy-makers has recently been focused on the big Internet platforms. But the underlying telecommunications industry is also undergoing significant change. New business models are emerging around the world which are changing the way the industry is structured and the way in which competition functions.

Operators are continually developing new models of sharing both fixed and mobile networks. Some operators are splitting themselves vertically into upstream and downstream players while others are integrating vertically into content. The technology of communications also continues to evolve rapidly taking major steps forward with the introduction of 5G, Software Defined Networks (SDNs) and new data compression technologies.

These changes in business models bring with them new challenges for sector regulators and competition authorities. Decisions by these authorities will have a profound effect on the way that the industry evolves. Overly restrictive regulatory approaches on the flexibility with which businesses operate will dampen incentives to invest and compete. On the other hand, too lenient a policy could result in the enhancement and entrenchment of existing market power—this too can result in less innovation, less investment and higher prices to consumers. Furthermore, the telecoms networks provide the essential network services which underpin the entire ICT industry and more widely ‘Industry 4.0’. Errors in decision-making about the parameters of competition in the telecoms industry will therefore have consequences that go far beyond the industry itself.

This combination of rapid change, continual technological innovation and the centrality of the industry in society and the economy make it ever more important that regulators get these decisions right.

Taking a longer term look at this fast-moving landscape, it is a good time for the IIC to reflect on questions such as:
- Do we understand the trends that are driving industry evolution in the short and medium-term?
- Can we predict what the implications for ICT competition will be in the future?
- What are the current legislative proposals in Brussels pointing to, and what could be the unintended consequences ?
- Longer term, what are some of the fallouts of Brexit which may impact competition issues for companies in the UK, or those in the UK dealing with EU companies and vice-versa?




Agustín Díaz-Pinés

Agustín Díaz-Pinés

Telecommunication Expert, DG Competition, European Commission

Jean-Jacques Sahel

Jean-Jacques Sahel

Managing Director Brussels Office, & Vice-President, Europe and Global Civil Society Stakeholder Engagement, ICANN; Chairman, UK Chapter, International Institute of Communications


Mark Williams

Mark Williams

Managing Director, Berkeley Research Group, UK

Tim Cowen

Tim Cowen

Partner, Preiskel & Co LLP; Director, International Institute of Communications

  • Monday, 17 July 2017

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