Advanced Search
MyIDEAS: Login

Antitrust Oversight of an Antitrust Dispute: An Institutional Perspective on the Net Neutrality Debate


Author Info

  • Nuechterlein, Jonathan E.
Registered author(s):


    The term "net neutrality" describes various proposals for regulatory intervention in the Internet marketplace. For example, under one type of proposal embodied in pending legislation, regulators would ban a broadband Internet access provider (such as Comcast or Verizon) from reaching commercial agreements with particular applications and content providers to provide the sophisticated quality-of-service techniques needed to support unusually performance-sensitive applications and content, such as real-time video streaming or multiplayer online videogames. Such proposals will likely be, one way or the other, a principal focus of telecommunications policy for the next decade.They have captured the attention of Congress, where several bills on the topic have been introduced; of legal, economic, and technology scholars across the ideological spectrum; and, of principal interest here, two key federal agencies: the Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Trade Commission. Most discussions of net neutrality focus on the merits of the debate: on the substantive costs and benefits of government intervention in the broadband market. This paper focuses instead on the comparatively neglected institutional dimension of the debate: an inquiry into which federal agencies are best positioned to resolve net neutrality disputes when they arise. As the paper argues, the net neutrality controversy is best understood as a classic antitrust dispute about "vertical leveraging," and the institutions most likely to appreciate the economic complexities of that dispute are the nation's specialized antitrust agencies: the Justice Department and the FTC. Because these agencies regulate the economy at large rather than a single industry, they are less vulnerable than the FCC to capture by industry factions; they are less likely to develop industry-specific bureaucracies with incentives to keep themselves relevant through over-regulation; and, because of their firm grounding in antitrust enforcement, they are more likely to resolve competition-oriented disputes dispassionately and on their economic merits.The paper thus argues for reviving in this context the competition-policy model that prevailed for much of the final quarter of the last century: a regime in which antitrust authorities, rather than industry-specific regulators, take the lead in addressing vertical-leveraging claims against providers of telecommunications transmission platforms.

    Download Info

    If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
    File URL:
    Our checks indicate that this address may not be valid because: 404 Not Found. If this is indeed the case, please notify (Archive Maintainer)
    Download Restriction: no

    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Regulation2point0 in its series Working paper with number 200.

    as in new window
    Date of creation: Feb 2008
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:reg:wpaper:200

    Contact details of provider:
    Web page:

    Related research



    No references listed on IDEAS
    You can help add them by filling out this form.


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as in new window

    Cited by:
    1. Toshiya JITSUZUMI, 2011. "Japan's Co-Regulatory Approach to Net Neutrality and its Flaw: Insufficient Literacy on Best-Effort QoS," Communications & Strategies, IDATE, Com&Strat dept., vol. 1(84), pages 93-110, 4th quart.


    This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.


    Access and download statistics


    When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:reg:wpaper:200. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Archive Maintainer).

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

    If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.