Today's Regulatory Mix: FTC Set to Examine Large Tech Acquisitions, Illinois Announces $50 Milling in Broadband Expansion Money, FCC’s Rosenworcel Releases New Podcast Episode
FTC Set to Examine Large Tech Acquisitions
In a press release, the FTC announced it issued Special Orders to five large technology firms, requiring them to provide information about prior acquisitions not reported to the antitrust agencies under the Hart-Scott-Rodino (HSR) Act. The orders require Google, Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Microsoft to provide information and documents on the terms, scope, structure, and purpose of transactions that each company consummated between Jan. 1, 2010 and Dec. 31, 2019.
The FTC issued these orders under Section 6(b) of the FTC Act, which authorizes the FTC to conduct wide-ranging studies that do not have a specific law enforcement purpose. The orders will help the FTC deepen its understanding of large technology firms’ acquisition activity, including how these firms report their transactions to the federal antitrust agencies, and whether large tech companies are making potentially anticompetitive acquisitions of nascent or potential competitors that fall below HSR filing thresholds and therefore do not need to be reported to the antitrust agencies.
“Digital technology companies are a big part of the economy and our daily lives,” said FTC Chairman Joe Simons. “This initiative will enable the Commission to take a closer look at acquisitions in this important sector, and also to evaluate whether the federal agencies are getting adequate notice of transactions that might harm competition. This will help us continue to keep tech markets open and competitive, for the benefit of consumers.”
The FTC plans to use the information obtained in this study to examine trends in acquisitions and the structure of deals, including whether acquisitions not subject to HSR notification might have raised competitive concerns, and the nature and extent of other agreements that may restrict competition. The FTC also seeks to learn more about how small firms perform after they are acquired by large technology firms. These and related issues were discussed during several sessions of the FTC’s 2018 Hearings on Competition and Consumer Protection in the 21st Century, and this study is part of the follow-up from those Hearings.
Illinois Announces $50 Million in Broadband Expansion Money
The Governor of Illinois, JB Pritzker, announced that the state is releasing $50 million in funding for the first round of matching grants of Connect Illinois, the state's $420 million statewide broadband expansion.
"We're beginning to deliver on an ambitious 4- year plan to deliver broadband to homes, businesses and community institutions like hospitals and libraries in every corner of the state," said Governor Pritzker. "I want to be clear: This isn't about a person's ability to check Facebook. This is about a small business owner having the tools she needs to reach new customers. This is about an elderly couple's ability to get access to medical experts anywhere in the nation even if they live in a rural community. This is about giving children the ability to research their homework assignments online. In short, this is about the right of all our communities to access health care, education, and economic opportunity."
Applicants are required to provide at least 50% of non-state funding, effectively doubling the size of the nation's largest state competitive grant program to expand high-speed internet.
Applicants are anticipated to include internet service providers, rural cooperatives, nonprofits, and local governments. Grant responses for the initial $50 million round of funding can be submitted through Friday, April 3, 2020. Up to $5 million per project will be available during the first round, and subsequent rounds will follow over the course of the next several years.
FCC’s Rosenworcel Releases New Podcast Episode
FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel announced the release of the latest episode of her podcast, Broadband Conversations, featuring Dr. Carla Hayden, the Librarian of Congress. The fourteenth Librarian of Congress, Dr. Hayden is the first woman and the first African American to hold the post in our nation’s history. Rosenworcel said: “As Dr. Hayden said during our conversation, ‘Librarians are the original search engines.’ I couldn’t agree more. Dr. Hayden talks about that and so much more in this episode, including her work to ensure that 171 million items in the Library of Congress’ collection are accessible to all. She provides an inside look at the Library’s wide-ranging collection, which includes the diaries of Susan B. Anthony and the Gettysburg Address, as well as special exhibits like the current one on the life of Rosa Parks, which I was lucky enough to tour. I hope listeners of this episode are inspired to take a trip to their local library and explore all that it has to offer, because in the digital age libraries are amazing.”
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.