The DOJ Announced it is Reviewing Online Platform Practices
The Department of Justice announced today that the Department’s Antitrust Division is reviewing whether and how market-leading online platforms have achieved market power and are engaging in practices that have reduced competition, stifled innovation, or otherwise harmed consumers.
“Without the discipline of meaningful market-based competition, digital platforms may act in ways that are not responsive to consumer demands,” said Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim of the Antitrust Division. “The Department’s antitrust review will explore these important issues.”
The goal of the Department’s review is to assess the competitive conditions in the online marketplace in an objective and fair-minded manner and to ensure Americans have access to free markets in which companies compete on the merits to provide services that users want. If violations of law are identified, the Department will proceed appropriately to seek redress.
The Regulatory Mix Today: The DOJ Announced it is Reviewing Online Platform Practices, Congressman Questions Tech Companies, NCTA Says Pole Rates are Excessive and Stifling Rural Broadband Deployment
Congressman Questions Tech Companies
In a press release, House Antitrust Subcommittee Chairman David N. Cicilline announced that he sent letters asking Google, Facebook, and Amazon to provide complete answers to questions that were raised during last week’s Subcommittee hearing on “Online Platforms and Market Power, Part 2: Innovation and Entrepreneurship.”
“The American people have a right to know what’s going on here,” Cicilline said. “I was deeply troubled by the evasive, incomplete, or misleading answers received to basic questions directed to these companies by Members of the Subcommittee. While it is unclear whether these responses stemmed from their lack of preparation, purposeful evasion, or a failure by these companies to select appropriate witnesses for the hearing, we expect Google, Facebook, and Amazon to take this opportunity to provide responses to these questions raised during the hearing."
NCTA Says Pole Rates are Excessive and Stifling Rural Broadband Deployment
The Internet & Television Association (NCTA) issued press release delineating its position on pole attachment rates and how they affect high-speed broadband deployment.
Primarily, NCTA is concerned that “[n]ot all utility companies are subject to the same regulatory limits when it comes to pole attachment fees, and many are taking advantage of this discrepancy by charging rates that are two or three times higher, which could add up to hundreds of dollars per mile. The real world impact is that the higher rates are harming broadband deployment, network upgrades, and competition in rural areas, contributing to the digital divide between urban and rural areas. But Congress can do something about this.”
NCTA recently filed with the FCC a report that examines the excessive pole attachment rates charged by municipal and cooperative electric companies and the negative effect of those rates on broadband deployment, especially in rural areas.
NCTA wants Congress to act by “removing the Section 224 exemption for municipals and cooperatives in order to limit these pole owners to actual cost-based rates and to provide a fair and consistent representation of the market. And all operators that accept broadband funding, either through federal or state dollars, should be required to use the federal pole attachment formula under Section 224 when making their poles available and assigning rates. Doing so will increase overall investment in all communications networks that rely on pole attachments to deploy reliable and quality broadband service to the rural areas where connectivity is needed the most.”
The Regulatory Mix, Inteserra’s blog of telecom related regulatory activities, is a snapshot of PUC, FCC, legislative, and occasionally court issues that our regulatory monitoring team uncovers each day. Depending on their significance, some items may be the subject of an Inteserra Briefing.