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An antitrust analysis of the case for wireless network neutrality

Author

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  • Rosston, Gregory L.
  • Topper, Michael D.

Abstract

The ongoing debate about possible implementation of regulatory rules requiring "network neutrality" for wireless telecommunications services is inherently about whether to impose prohibitions on the ability of network operators to control their vertical relationships. Antitrust analysis is well suited to analyze whether a wireless network neutrality rule is socially beneficial. Implementing network neutrality rules would be akin to using a per se antitrust rule regarding vertical relationships instead of the rule of reason analysis typically applied to vertical relationships in antitrust. Per se rules are used to prevent actions that rarely, if ever, have any procompetitive benefits, such as price-fixing agreements. Rule of reason analysis is used when there are potential efficiency gains from the actions under investigation. Some vertical practices of the wireless carriers, such as bandwidth restrictions, may appear to be anticompetitive, but may also have plausible efficiency justifications so should be judged under rule of reason analysis. Economic examination of the wireless industry shows significant competition between networks, which reduces the concern about vertical relationships, but also shows some areas that should be monitored by antitrust and regulatory authorities. We propose several regulatory changes that would likely increase wireless competition and lessen the perceived need for prophylactic network neutrality rules while at the same time allowing efficiency-enhancing vertical relationships.

Suggested Citation

  • Rosston, Gregory L. & Topper, Michael D., 2010. "An antitrust analysis of the case for wireless network neutrality," Information Economics and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 103-119, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:iepoli:v:22:y:2010:i:1:p:103-119
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Mayo, John W. & Wallsten, Scott, 2010. "Enabling efficient wireless communications: The role of secondary spectrum markets," Information Economics and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 61-72, March.
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    3. Rey, Patrick & Tirole, Jean, 2007. "A Primer on Foreclosure," Handbook of Industrial Organization, Elsevier.
    4. Mark L. Burton & David L. Kaserman & John W. Mayo, 2009. "Common Costs And Cross-Subsidies: Misestimation Versus Misallocation," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 27(2), pages 193-199, April.
    5. Mayo John W, 2008. "It's No Time to Regulate Wireless Telephony," The Economists' Voice, De Gruyter, vol. 5(1), pages 1-4, February.
    6. Michael D. Grubb, 2009. "Selling to Overconfident Consumers," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(5), pages 1770-1807, December.
    7. Farrell, Joseph & Weiser, Philip J., 2003. "Modularity, Vertical Integration, and Open Access Policies: Towards a Convergence of Antitrust and Regulation in the Internet Age," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt4dh7q2dd, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
    8. Beard, T Randolph & Kaserman, David L & Mayo, John W, 2001. "Regulation, Vertical Integration and Sabotage," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 49(3), pages 319-333, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. Gregory L. Rosston, 2013. "Increasing Wireless Value: Technology, Spectrum, and Incentives," Discussion Papers 12-015, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
    2. Shinohara, Sobee & Morikawa, Hiroyuki & Tsuji, Masatsugu, 2014. "Empirical analysis of mobile broadband adoption in major six countries from the view of competition policy," 20th ITS Biennial Conference, Rio de Janeiro 2014: The Net and the Internet - Emerging Markets and Policies 106849, International Telecommunications Society (ITS).

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