Vertical separation of telecommunications networks: evidence from five countries.
I. INTRODUCTION II. UNBUNDLING AND DISCRIMINATION IN TELECOMMUNICATIONS MARKETS: THE REGULATORY CASE FOR SEPARATION A. Mandatory Unbundling and the Incentive Problem B. Forms of Separation III. MANDATORY SEPARATION AND THE ECONOMICS OF VERTICAL INTEGRATION A. The Economics of Vertical Integration B. Empirical Evidence Relating to Vertical Integration C. Vertical Integration in Telecommunications Markets IV. MANDATORY SEPARATION 1N FIVE COUNTRIES A. The United Kingdom 1. A New Regulator 2. A New Policy: Functional Separation B. Australia C. Italy D. New Zealand E. Sweden V. EARLY EVIDENCE: THE EFFECTS OF VERTICAL SEPARATION ON BROADBAND PENETRATION AND INVESTMENT A. Broadband Growth 1. Broadband Growth in the United Kingdom 2. Broadband Growth in Australia, Italy, New Zealand, and Sweden B. Network Investment and Fiber Deployment 1. Network Investment and Fiber Deployment in the United Kingdom 2. Network Investment and Fiber Deployment in Australia, Italy, New Zealand, and Sweden VI. Is VERTICAL SEPARATION AN OPTION FOR THE UNITED STATES? A. Structural Separation in the U.S. Telecommunications Sector: A Brief History B. Unlike Countries That Have Adopted Functional Separation, the United States Has Virtually Ubiquitous Platform Competition C. Unbundling Existing U.S. Next Generation Networks Would Be Costly, If Not Infeasible VII. CONCLUSION
Regulatory regimes that require vertically integrated firms to share hard-to-replicate infrastructures--such as electricity transmission lines, railroad tracks, or the last-mile connections in telecommunications networks--create potential incentive problems, as vertically integrated firms may be induced to discriminate against upstream or downstream competitors. For example, electricity firms might discriminate in favor of their own generation plants against independent generators; railroad track owners might discriminate against competing owners of rolling stock; or telecommunications network operators might discriminate against competing service providers.
To prevent such discrimination, regulators sometimes adopt rules requiring equal treatment or "nondiscriminatory access" to bottleneck facilities--for example, requiring telephone companies to provision lines for competitors' retail customers as quickly and reliably as for their own. (1) Such regulations are subject to the limitations inherent in all such principal-agent relationships: regulators typically have incomplete information, monitoring and policing compliance is costly, and the results are likely to be imperfect.
One approach to preventing discrimination is to require some form of vertical disintegration, or "separation," by the regulated firm. In their mildest forms, mandates for "accounting separation" may simply require the firm to maintain separate records for its upstream and downstream divisions, thus facilitating regulators' efforts to monitor compliance. (2) At the opposite end of the spectrum, regulators may force full structural separation, or complete divestiture, of the bottleneck facilities into a separate firm. In between, there is a potentially infinite range of "operational" or "functional" separation alternatives which impose various requirements for "arms-length" dealing, while stopping short of complete divestiture. (3)
Current proposals for vertical separation are motivated primarily by perceived problems in implementing mandatory access (or unbundling) regimes, which force incumbents to lease portions of their last-mile networks to competitors at regulated prices. (4) While mandatory unbundling has been substantially scaled back in the United States (and was only briefly applied to broadband services in the form of line sharing), it remains a regulatory staple in much of the rest of the world, including the European Union and several Pacific Basin nations. (5)
By its very nature, mandated vertical separation involves a regulatory decision to alter the degree of vertical integration that market forces have otherwise developed. In telecommunications markets, it is commonplace for network infrastructures to be owned and operated by the same firms that provide retail services directly to subscribers. (6) Economic theory posits that vertical integration is most likely to be economically efficient in industries where there are significant sunk costs (i.e., "asset specificity") and where there are high levels of complexity or uncertainty--all characteristics associated with the modern telecommunications industry. To the extent mandated vertical separation disrupts or reduces these efficiencies, it may discourage the introduction of new networks, thereby reducing economic welfare and harming consumers. Concerns about the potential for such disruptions--combined with recognition that the more extreme forms of separation potentially are irreversible--have led most regulators to back away from mandatory separation, or to view it as a "last resort," to be used only in cases of extreme and otherwise irremediable discrimination. (7)
Nevertheless, since 2002, five nations--Australia (2005), Italy (2002, 2008), New Zealand (2007), Sweden (2008), and the United Kingdom (2005)--have adopted some form of mandatory vertical separation, (8) and the European Parliament is on the verge of embracing functional separation as a potential remedy for use by European Union (EU) national regulators (albeit only as an "exceptional measure"). (9) As the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) noted in 2008, "[t]here has been a tremendous amount of interest around the world recently in functional separation as a regulatory remedy in the telecommunication sector." (10)
In this Article, we examine the arguments for and against mandated vertical separation in telecommunications. Section II discusses the regulatory case for mandatory separation in telecommunications markets and describes the types of separation regimes typically advanced. Section III explains relevant economic theories of vertical integration and their application to telecommunications markets, concluding that telecommunications possesses many of the characteristics economists associate with the presence of strong efficiency effects of vertical integration. Section IV describes the separation regimes that have been adopted to date--in Australia, Italy, New Zealand, Sweden, and the United Kingdom--and briefly summarizes the market circumstances in each country at the time separation was implemented. Section V presents the available empirical evidence on the impact of mandatory separation in each of these countries, focusing specifically on broadband adoption and infrastructure investment. Section VI briefly examines the appropriateness of mandatory separation for the United States. In Section VII we summarize our central conclusion, which is that the available evidence fails to support the proposition that mandatory separation improves market performance, but this evidence does suggest that such a policy leads to reduced levels of innovation and investment. Adoption of mandatory separation in the United States would represent a radical departure from current policies, which would be extremely disruptive and likely to produce few, if any, benefits while imposing extremely large costs.
II. UNBUNDLING AND DISCRIMINATION IN TELECOMMUNICATIONS MARKETS: THE REGULATORY CASE FOR SEPARATION
Mandatory unbundling policies for telecommunications networks were first adopted in Hong Kong in 1995, rolled out aggressively in the United States after passage of the 1996 Telecommunications Act, and adopted in most other Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries between 1999 and 2001. (11) Beginning in 2003, the FCC--prompted by the courts--began reversing course, initially by forbearing from imposing unbundling for broadband services delivered over optical fiber, hybrid-fiber-coax (HFC) and through line sharing over traditional copper networks. (12) In 2004, it eliminated the so-called "UNE-Platform" (UNE-P), a requirement that incumbents offer the entire local telecommunications platform at low, wholesale rates. (13) In 2005, the FCC essentially deregulated telephone companies' DSL services by declaring them to be "information services." (14)
In contrast to the United States, most OECD nations have continued to pursue mandatory unbundling of local loops for both voice and broadband services. (15) Hence, regulators in these countries continue to grapple with the incentive problems created when mandatory unbundling regimes are imposed on incumbent carriers, and to explore the role of vertical separation requirements in addressing those problems.
A. Mandatory Unbundling and the Incentive Problem
When regulators force vertically integrated incumbents to lease access to their networks to competitors at binding maximum prices, incumbents may have incentives to engage in non-price discrimination in favor of their own retail services. (16) Such discrimination, in principle, could take any number of forms, from providing competitors with slower installation times to failing to provide adequate interfaces for operations support systems (OSS) necessary to coordinate the ordering and billing of services. As the FCC explained in its 1996 Order implementing the unbundling provisions of the Telecommunications Act,
[w]e are also cognizant of the fact that incumbent LECs have the incentive and the ability to engage in many kinds of discrimination. For example, incumbent LECs could potentially delay providing access to unbundled network elements, or they could provide them to new entrants at a degraded level of quality. (17)
In this context, the challenge for regulators is to devise mechanisms for detecting and policing potential discrimination. In principle, regulators have two choices: they can impose behavioral rules on incumbents, requiring them to meet various regulatory metrics for providing service on a nondiscriminatory basis, backed up by some form of case-by-case enforcement mechanism and penalties; or, they can attempt to alter incumbents' incentives by imposing some form of mandatory separation.
The primary argument for mandated separation is that it reduces or (in the extreme) eliminates the incentive of the incumbent network operator to engage in non-price discrimination in favor of its own retail operations. (18) Simply put, in the absence of mandatory separation, the incumbent has incentives to maximize the joint profits of its upstream network operations and its downstream retail affiliate. Further, to the extent the firm has, or reasonably believes it can acquire, market power in the downstream market, joint profit maximization may entail raising the costs of its upstream facilities to its downstream rivals (and thus deterring or slowing their entry). This strategy can be profitable to the integrated firm, even at the cost of reduced sales, and thus reduced profits, in its upstream division. If the upstream unit can be forced to maximize profits independent of the interests of its retail affiliate, it will no longer have an incentive--in theory--to discriminate. (19)
B. Forms of Separation
The terms "accounting," "operational," "functional," and "structural" typically are used to describe different types of separation mandates. At the extremes--accounting separation and structural separation--the terms are relatively unambiguous. Under accounting separation, the vertically integrated firm is required to follow specified accounting conventions for allocating the costs and revenues of upstream and downstream services into separate baskets, thus allowing regulators to set wholesale prices for the upstream service; however, the firm continues to operate as a vertically integrated whole, thereby preventing the loss of vertical efficiencies. (20) Under full structural separation, on the other hand, the upstream and downstream portions of the firm are literally divided into separate companies with different ownership, management, etc. (21) Under structural separation, all vertical efficiencies that depend upon joint ownership and control are eliminated. (22)
Between the two extremes, there is a wide variety of options, typically categorized as "operational" or "functional" separation. In general, operational separation refers to the creation of a separate division within the firm whose mission is to service wholesale customers, while the firm's retail operations are essentially unaffected--i.e., they continue to operate as an integrated part of the firm. (23) Under functional separation, on the other hand, the firm's retail operations are to one degree or another set apart--legally, organizationally, and/or physically--from its upstream network operations. (24) The greater the separation, the greater the independence between the network and retail operations and, at least in theory, the less incentive the network operator has to discriminate in favor of its affiliated retail arm. (25) By the same token, of course, increased separation reduces the ability to capture vertical economies.
In practice, both operational and functional separation involve dozens of granular decisions about precisely how the "separated" firm is to operate. Who is to report to whom? Who is permitted to talk with whom, and about what topics? What systems can be shared between the regulated network operator and its retail affiliate, and which ones must be duplicated? And, perhaps most important, who is compensated for what-that is, to what extent are the operators of the upstream and downstream divisions incentivized to maximize the performance of their own divisions versus the performance of the firm as a whole? (26) How these questions are answered determines the extent to which mandated separation affects both managers' incentives to discriminate in the provision of services to competitors and their ability (and desire) to capture vertical economies.
III. MANDATORY SEPARATION AND THE ECONOMICS OF VERTICAL INTEGRATION
While it is fairly commonplace for telecommunications providers to offer services on both a wholesale and retail basis, we are aware of few examples of market forces inducing incumbent carriers to forego the provision of retail services altogether--i.e., to engage voluntarily in structural separation. (27) Nor do profit-maximizing firms, as a general matter, erect organizational or other barriers to internal coordination, as is the case with functional separation. (28)
Economists have developed several theories which explain the efficiency rationale for vertical integration, beginning with Ronald Coase's classic formulation of The Nature of the Firm in 1937. (29) These theories, stressing the efficiency effects of combining vertically related activities within a single firm, have received substantial empirical support, (30) and they can be utilized to explain why vertical integration of telecommunications continues into the modem competitive era, and why any policy that alters the degree of integration runs the risk of reducing efficiency and investment in telecommunications.
A. The Economics of Vertical Integration
Economic theories of vertical integration focus on the relative merits of firms (i.e., vertical integration) as compared with the market (i.e., contracts) as mechanisms for organizing economic endeavors in the presence of risk, uncertainty, and transaction costs. (31)
When multiple economic actors are required to make sunk-cost investments in some joint activity, the returns to which are contingent on unknown or unpredictable future events, it becomes costly (if not impossible) to write contracts among them that completely capture all of the possible future states of the world and allocate responsibilities and payoffs (i.e., profits) appropriately. (32) Furthermore, the presence of incomplete contracts creates the potential for both moral hazard (i.e., underperformance or shirking of contractual obligations) as well as for opportunistic ex post behavior, especially when the assets involved are specific to the economic activity at hand and cannot easily be put to alternative use. (33) The results are to increase the costs and risks of investment and to reduce the level of investment below the otherwise optimal level.
Vertical integration addresses these problems by internalizing the payouts among the (otherwise) contracting parties and by limiting the potential for shirking. Rather than trying to write contingent contracts that specify each and every possible future state of the world and allocate responsibilities and consequences for each of the parties, the parties simply agree ex ante to combine their efforts, to be directed within wide bounds by a central authority, and to share according to some pre-agreed (and nonnegotiable) formula in the results--that is, they agree to create a firm.
In terms of testable propositions, these theories predict that the economic efficiency gains from vertical integration will be greatest in the presence of asset specificity (i.e., the need to invest in assets which cannot easily be moved to an alternative use) and high levels of complexity or uncertainty in production processes or market conditions. As a recent survey of the economics literature on vertical integration by Francine Lafontaine and Margaret Slade explains, "asset specificity generates a flow of quasi rents that are associated with ex post haggling and opportunism, whereas complexity and uncertainty lead to contractual incompleteness." (34)
B. Empirical Evidence Relating to Vertical Integration
Lafontaine and Slade present an extensive review of the empirical literature on the effects of vertical integration, summarizing the results of economic studies that focus on both the motivations for vertical integration and the results of such integration, and conclude that numerous empirical studies support both the transactions cost and moral hazard models for vertical integration. (35) Specifically, they find that the empirical evidence supports the theoretical predictions that vertical integration is more likely in markets where various forms of asset specificity (e.g., physical capital specificity) are present and where uncertainty (e.g., the inability accurately to predict future sales) and complexity (e.g., complicated product design) are present. (36) Overall, they conclude, "[t]he weight of the evidence is overwhelming. Indeed, virtually all predictions from transaction-cost analysis appear to be borne out by the data." (37)
Perhaps even more important, the empirical evidence also supports the proposition that vertical integration is more likely to promote efficiency and benefit consumers than to facilitate market foreclosure or other anticompetitive outcomes, even in highly concentrated industries. Based on a review of ten empirical studies that evaluate whether vertical integration resulted in foreclosure or raising rivals' costs, Lafontaine and Slade conclude that "[t]he evidence in favor of anticompetitive foreclosure is therefore, at best weak, particularly when one considers that the industries studied were chosen because their vertical practices have been the subject of antitrust investigations." (38) On the other hand, LaFontaine and Slade's review of sixteen studies that assess the ultimate effect of vertical integration on consumer welfare, thirteen find consumer welfare is increased, with the remaining three finding the effect to be ambiguous. (39) On the basis of their review, Lafontaine and Slade conclude that
under most circumstances, profit-maximizing vertical-integration decisions are efficient, not just from the firms' but also from the consumers' points of view. Although there are isolated studies that contradict this claim, the vast majority support it. Moreover, even in industries that are highly concentrated so that horizontal considerations assume substantial importance, the net effect of vertical integration appears to be positive in many instances .... Furthermore, we have found clear evidence that restrictions on vertical integration that are imposed ... on owners of retail networks are usually detrimental to consumers. (40)
In short, the economics literature provides strong support, from both a theoretical and an empirical perspective, for the proposition that--as a general matter--mandatory vertical separation is likely to reduce efficiency and, on net, harm consumer welfare.
C. Vertical Integration in Telecommunications Markets
Telecommunications networks display virtually all of the characteristics economists associate with strong vertical efficiencies. First, the construction and operation of telecommunications networks requires the commitment of billions of dollars in assets that are highly specific to the operations of the carrier. (41) These assets are located and designed specifically to serve that carrier's network needs in its service area: the assets cannot be used for other purposes, and most of them cannot be moved economically to other locations. (42) Once deployed, they must be used to deliver telecommunications services in that area. (43) In short, telecommunications networks display an extremely high level of asset specificity.
Second, modem telecommunications networks also display high levels of complexity and uncertainty. Broadband technologies have changed dramatically (44) and are expected to continue to change. (45) Similarly, market conditions are subject to high degrees of uncertainty, as market demand for broadband and related services (voice, video) is constantly shifting and evolving.
Under these circumstances, the costs of coordinating upstream and downstream activities through contracts are likely to be high, and the case for vertical integration especially strong. (46)
Consider why it would ever make sense for the ownership of the core network assets to be separate from the delivery of downstream services over that network. Specifically, envision a situation in which company N owned the basic feeder and distribution network and another company, S, offered telecommunications services by connecting its own equipment to N's networks in order to connect with final subscribers. Indeed, one could even contemplate several such service companies (S companies) connected to N's core network, i.e., the current situation under network unbundling arrangements in most jurisdictions. (47) Such a market structure would only develop in the presence of diseconomies of scope or scale, e.g., if the specialized knowledge or abilities required for each task made joint ownership and operation of these two stages of telecommunications uneconomic. For example, the design, construction, and operation of the core network could conceivably be so alien to the service company that the company would choose not to build its own network, just as the company avoids producing its own copper wire or terminal equipment.
The existence of diseconomies of scale or scope is not, however, a sufficient condition for vertical disintegration. Instead, for separation to be economically efficient, such diseconomies must exceed the costs of the alternative: using contracts to organize the same activities.
N and S face a number of problems as they seek to negotiate such a contract. First, the services involved are inherently complex. A contract would need to address such issues as the prices for maintaining the network, delivering network services, connecting subscriber lines, and replacing network elements as they depreciate. It would need to specify how S would compensate N for deploying its network to new subdivisions, how its fees would change with inflation, and dozens of other factors relating to marketing, service quality, prices, coordination, and so forth.
Second, the rapid pace of technological and market change would make such a contract even more difficult to negotiate and perhaps still more difficult to enforce. In the case of telecommunications, network design is critically related to the services to be offered. As the market shifts from simple analogue voice services to low-speed data services to higher-speed data services to still higher-speed advanced services and, ultimately, to one-way or two-way video services, the network must continually be altered.
Third, the network design must be adjusted to competitive conditions in the downstream marketplace. For instance, as voice services shift to wireless and Voice-over-Internet Protocol (VoIP), or high-speed data services gravitate to fixed or mobile wireless, the fixed-wire network must be adjusted to deliver a larger share of video services, perhaps in high definition. The marketing of these services may require the offering of both wireless and fixed-wire voice, data, and video services in bundled packages that are constantly adapting to competitive conditions and new technologies.
Under these dynamic conditions, it is unlikely that vertically fragmented network owners and service providers would have as strong incentives to invest as would a vertically integrated service provider. The knowledge and coordination required for network design and service offerings point strongly toward vertical integration in the highly dynamic modern telecommunications environment. (48)
In a similarly dynamic period of the history of automobiles, Henry Ford integrated backward into glass and steel manufacturing because the market was gravitating from wooden automobile bodies to much more sophisticated welded bodies with glass windows and windshields. (49) Ford was an innovator in materials supply as well as materials production. Once the market for automobiles settled down into one of steel body construction and annual volumes grew substantially, vertical integration became less important. Over time, the Ford Motor Company--and other motor vehicle companies--became less vertically integrated, acquiring its materials from independent companies that were not owned by Ford or any other vehicle producer. (50)
As long as telecommunications technology and market demand for communications services continue to change rapidly, creating the opportunity for new and improved services, it is likely that the integration of network owners and service providers will be required to coordinate investment decisions. These investment decisions involve billions of dollars and substantial risk that non-vertically integrated entities would be less likely to undertake--and investors would be less likely to reward.
The imposition of functional or operational separation is likely to be especially problematic when it comes time to make major investments in new infrastructures, (51) such as the NGN investments now underway in many countries to deploy fiber-to-the-node (FTTN) or fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) infrastructures, for three reasons. First, the challenges and costs of writing contingent contracts that efficiently share the risks and rewards of such investments are magnified by both the size and the uncertainty of such investments.
Second, when several competitors are attached to a given incumbent network, each is likely to have a business plan that differs from its competitors. For example, some competitors may choose to offer only high-speed Internet and voice services while the incumbent prepares to offer video services in addition to these other services. The optimal network design for the incumbent may thus begin to differ from that desired by these competitors. Indeed, if the incumbent changes the network by deploying FTTH or FTTN, competitors relying more heavily on colocations at traditional telephone-network wire centers may be faced with large new investments--or, as discussed below, find it uneconomical to continue competing at all. In such an environment, each competitor has strong incentives to influence the network operator's decisions through any and all means, including political lobbying.
Third, one of the key benefits of vertical integration is the ability to share knowledge between the downstream and upstream divisions--for example, the upstream division is likely to have unique insight into the costs of constructing an NGN, while the downstream (retail) division is likely to have better information on the types of services consumers may demand from the network (and their willingness to pay). So long as the upstream and downstream functions are vertically integrated, they have strong incentives to share this knowledge in order to achieve collective success. Mandated separation destroys these incentives: rather than sharing information candidly, each downstream firm instead has an incentive to share only that information that supports its preferred outcome.
In sum, economic theory, supported by empirical evidence from a variety of industries, (52) suggests vertical separation in the telecommunications sector risks creating substantial problems for innovation and investment, especially when major new infrastructure investments are involved. The evidence discussed below suggests these problems are in fact presenting themselves in countries that have imposed vertical separation requirements.
IV. MANDATORY SEPARATION IN FIVE COUNTRIES
In this Section, we examine the experience to date of the five nations that have adopted some form of forced separation in association with mandatory unbundling of telecommunications networks. We begin with the United Kingdom, which adopted a strong form of functional separation in 2005 and is thus widely (and correctly) regarded as the most important test case to date. (53) Next we review the experiences in four other countries that have lately adopted some form of vertical separation: Australia, Italy, New Zealand, and Sweden.
A. The United Kingdom
Functional separation in the United Kingdom occurred in late 2005, when British Telecommunications (BT) agreed to the establishment of a new and operationally distinct business division responsible for the operation and development of BT's local access networks after a June 2005 report by independent regulator Ofcom. (54) To avoid referral by Ofcom to the British High Court, BT consented to create and staff Openreach, a new business division to operate its local access networks and to make universally available such products as local loop unbundling and shared loops, wholesale line rental, and backhaul products. (55) In addition, Openreach adopted a policy of "product equivalence," requiring that it support all providers' retail activities on a nondiscriminatory basis. (56)
1. A New Regulator
Britain's independent telecom regulator, Ofcom, was created in 2003 to replace the former regulator, Of Tel. (57) The new regulatory commission quickly launched a review of the telecommunications sector and the regulatory options before it. This review, the "Strategic Review of Telecommunications," provided the basis for the new regulatory approach that was launched in 2005. (58)
The telecommunications sector that Ofcom reviewed in 2003-05 was very different from the U.S. telecommunications sector. First, fixed-wire telecommunications was dominated by a single company, BT, which had limited fixed-wire competition from noncable companies. (59) The early entry by cable television companies into narrowband voice services had stalled because of the financial difficulties of the cable companies, which had slowly been reorganized into two national companies, NTL and Telewest. (60) Eventually, these two cable companies merged into one national cable firm, now called Virgin Media. (61) There were no other major incumbent local exchange carriers that could have contemplated entry into BT's local exchange territories. (62) The cable companies were so weak financially that they had been unable to launch a major assault on the broadband market. (63) By the middle of 2003, the cable companies had only 1.8 subscribers per 100 UK residents, compared with 4.8 cable modem subscribers per 100 residents in the United States at that time. (64)
2. A New Policy: Functional Separation
While the structural conditions in the United Kingdom's telecom markets in 2003-05 were less conducive to competition than those in the United States, Ofcom's basis for its decision to alter dramatically the United Kingdom's regulatory paradigm was surprisingly weak. In the Phase 2 Consultation Document of the Strategic Telecommunications Policy Review, released in late 2004, Ofcom focused almost entirely on the broadband market. (65) Its clear conclusion was that there was insufficient intra-platform and inter-platform competition in the United Kingdom, and that Ofcom could not effectively address the latter problem. (66) Therefore, it would be forced to construct a more aggressive policy of mandating equal access to BT's broadband facilities through wholesale unbundling regulation. Ofcom felt that the only other alternative was a full structural separation of BT's wholesale and retail activities. (67)
Ultimately, Ofcom pressed BT to guarantee competitors access to its network facilities on an Equivalence of Inputs basis. (68) In June 2005, BT announced that it would agree to provide such a guarantee. (69) After further negotiations with Ofcom, BT agreed to institute a functional separation of its facilities into separate wholesale and retail divisions, and to guarantee that it would provide entrants with access to services or inputs in which it had significant market power that would be the same as that provided to its own retail operations. (70) As a result of this agreement, BT established Openreach, which provides these wholesale services to entrants and to its own retail operations. (71)
There was very little analysis of the development of broadband in the United Kingdom through 2004 in the Ofcom documents. Ofcom's decision instead was based largely on a comparison of broadband penetration across a few countries, as portrayed in Figure 1 of Annex O of its Report: (72)
[FIGURE 1 OMITTED]
From this crude graph, Ofcom was able to opine that
[o]f the countries under consideration, Japan and the US can be considered [to be] in the 'second tier' in terms of broadband penetration with take-up in the UK similar to that in France and Germany. More recent data for Europe show that the UK now ranks above Germany in terms of penetration but remains slightly below France where growth in the number of unbundled local loops and improved availability of lower speed entry level products has helped boost penetration. (73)
Ofcom provided no analysis of the recent trajectory of broadband in the United Kingdom, nor did it undertake to analyze the sources of its growth. Had Ofcom looked more closely, it would have discovered that broadband was growing more rapidly in the United Kingdom than in France or in the EU-15 in general, and that much of this growth was coming from DSL services based on BT's existing wholesale offerings. (74) At the end of 2005, only five EU countries were measurably ahead of the United Kingdom in broadband penetration: Belgium, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, and Sweden. (75) Thus, whatever problems Ofcom's new policy sought to address, there certainly was no evidence that the United Kingdom was falling measurably behind with respect to Interact availability or uptake.
In September 2005, as part of a broader effort to increase competition based on unbundled loops, the Australian government ordered incumbent telecommunications carrier Telstra to submit a plan for operational separation to be approved by the Communication Minister. (76) Government officials sought separation as a remedy to the operation of Telstra's wholesale division in a manner that allegedly favored Telstra's retail business at the expense of wholesale customers. (77) On June 23, 2006, the Minister approved a plan which called for the company to maintain separate retail, wholesale, and network service business units. (78) Employees working in Telstra's retail division were specifically barred from working in its wholesale unit and vice versa, (79) and Telstra's retail business units were prohibited from exercising control over the marketing, contracting, or supply of services to wholesale customers. (80) However, although a separate wholesale division was created to serve competitors, the rest of Telstra was left intact as an integrated wholesale and retail operator, and Telstra's nondiscrimination obligations were defined on an equivalence of outputs basis. (81)
Vertical separation in Italy began in 2002 with the release of Resolution No. 152/02/CONS, by Agcom, the independent Italian Communications Regulatory Authority. (82) Agcom identified incumbent Telecom Italia (TI) as an operator with significant market power in fixed telephony (83) and sought to grant equivalency of access of its network services to competitors. (84) Agcom directed TI to implement "administrative separation," which resulted in the creation of TI Retail and TI Wholesale as distinct business units. (85) TI Wholesale was responsible for the provision of network access and services to competitors. (86) Unlike models of functional separation in other countries, the Italian model allowed TI to retain core network and access services within the same operational division. (87)
In May 2007, Agcom undertook a public consultation on functional separation and also proposed legislation that would allow it to impose functional separation on firms with significant market power. (88) TI, in what the ITU labeled "an apparent attempt to appease Agcom," (89) responded by creating a new and completely autonomous business unit, called Open Access, which was announced in February 2008 (90) and approved by Agcom in December 2008. (91) While TI has characterized Open Access as "operational" separation, it is in many respects similar in structure to BT's Openreach, including the creation of an "Equal Access Board" to oversee compliance with nondiscrimination. (92) Unlike Openreach, however, Open Access does not have a separate board of directors. (93)
D. New Zealand
Functional separation in New Zealand came quickly on the heels of BT's reorganization in the United Kingdom. In 2006, New Zealand's parliament passed into law the Telecommunications Amendment Act (No. 2) 2006, in which the Minister of Communications ordered the reorganization of Telecom New Zealand (TNZ). (94) TNZ agreed to split into three separate divisions--retail, network, and wholesale--that would operate at arm's length from one another. (95) "Separation Day" for TNZ occurred on March 31, 2008, (96) and the process is set to be completed formally by 2012. (97) As in the United Kingdom, the primary thrust of the functional separation of TNZ was to impose nondiscriminatory access to wholesale telecommunications services for TNZ's competitors. (98)
In 2007, the Swedish Post and Telecom Agency (PTS) proposed legislation that would give it the authority to impose functional separation on incumbent TeliaSonera. (99) The PTS justified the proposal on the basis that there was "[d]eep mistrust" between TeliaSonera and its wholesale customers, "[r]epeated disputes and long court proceedings," and various forms of alleged discrimination. (100) Despite these problems, however, TeliaSonera had a retail market share of only fitly-seven percent of DSL connections (the remainder being served by its wholesale customers); (101) and its overall market share was only thirty-six percent, since DSL represented only sixty-three percent of broadband connections, with the remainder being supplied by cable (twenty-one percent) and municipal fiber (sixteen percent). (102) In terms of availability, the cable infrastructure reached sixty percent of premises, and FTTH networks reached approximately thirty percent. (103)
PTS' proposed legislation was adopted by the Swedish Parliament in June 2008 and took effect on July 1, 2008. (104) To date, PTS has not formally imposed a functional separation requirement on TeliaSonera, but it has undertaken analyses of access network markets, and indicated it is continuing to consider adopting a formal rule. (105)
Even before passage of the legislation, however, TeliaSonera "voluntarily" created a functionally separated access company, TeliaSonera Skanova Access AB (Skanova), which began operations on January 1, 2008. (106) Skanova is a wholly owned but independently operated network infrastructure company, which leases access to TeliaSonera's network assets on equal terms to both TeliaSonera's retail operations and to its wholesale customers, under the oversight of an "Equality Access Board," which is tasked with ensuring equal treatment and independence. (107) Thus, while the PTS has yet to formally impose a functional separation requirement, as a practical matter, functional separation was adopted in January 2008.
V. EARLY EVIDENCE: THE EFFECTS OF VERTICAL SEPARATION ON BROADBAND PENETRATION AND INVESTMENT
While it may be too early to provide a comprehensive evaluation of the experience of these five countries with functional/operational separation, we can provide some evidence on two important metrics: (1) the growth of broadband penetration and (2) network investment and fiber deployment. We find that vertical separation has not had measurable positive effects on either metric; to the contrary, the early evidence suggests the growth of broadband penetration has slowed in countries which have adopted vertical separation and that investment, especially with respect to NGN fiber networks, has been deterred.
A. Broadband Growth
The most obvious indicator of the success or failure of a policy designed to provide broadband competitors with access to the incumbent's facilities at nondiscriminatory rates would be a surge in broadband subscription growth due to the increase in competition. Because the UK policy has been in effect longer than the separation policies of the other four countries, we can provide greater detail on its effect. We therefore begin with the United Kingdom and then turn to a necessarily more cursory analysis of the other four countries' experiences. (108)
1. Broadband Growth in the United Kingdom
If broadband had been languishing in the United Kingdom because of a lack of competition from resellers or other DSL providers using BT loops, one might expect the change in policy in the third quarter of 2005 to correct this deficiency. As entrants took advantage of the availability of BT's new wholesale offerings and BT's mandated nondiscrimination against competitors, entrant-supplied broadband lines should have increased according to the Ofcom theory (109)--perhaps dramatically. But no such event occurred.
To the contrary, broadband line growth actually decelerated after the adoption of functional separation. Between the third quarter 2005 and third quarter 2008, according to ECTA data, UK broadband lines increased from 8.9 million to 16.9 million, an annual rate of increase of 21 percent. (110) However, broadband lines had been increasing by more than 50 percent per year before third quarter 2005. (111) Moreover, BT's retail lines have been growing more rapidly than its competitors' lines since third quarter 2005, (112) despite the new liberalized wholesale regime. (113)
A comparison of UK broadband growth with growth in the EU-15 yields a similarly bleak conclusion about the effects of functional separation. According to ECTA data, between September 2002 and September 2005, when the new Ofcom policy went into effect, UK broadband lines increased at an annual rate of seventy-six percent while EU-15 broadband lines rose at a rate of fifty-four percent. (114) Thus, prior to the change in policy, the rate of increase in UK broadband lines was forty one percent greater than the rate of increase in the EU-15. (115) In the three years following the implementation of the new Ofcom policy, UK broadband line growth fell to twenty-one percent, and EU-15 broadband line growth fell to twenty-three percent. (116) (See Figure 2 below.) Thus, the new policy has been associated with a severe decline in UK growth relative to the growth in the EU-15. Indeed, the UK broadband growth rate is now less than the average rate for the entire EU-15, and broadband penetration in the United Kingdom has fallen relative to EU-15 penetration in the three years that the policy has been in place. (117)
[FIGURE 2 OMITTED]
2. Broadband Growth in Australia, Italy, New Zealand, and Sweden
In three of the four other countries where vertical separation has been implemented--Australia, Italy, and New Zealand--broadband growth was greater than the OECD average at the time the new policy was under discussion and ultimately implemented, but subsequently subsided to be approximately equal to, or even somewhat below, the OECD average. (118) In Sweden, broadband penetration has been consistently above the OECD average and continues to grow as rapidly as the OECD average, despite the maturity of the Swedish market. (119)
Figure 3 (120) shows the broadband penetration in each country using a logarithmic scale on the vertical axis: the slope of each curve thus reflects the growth rate in broadband penetration. As shown by the fact that the lines become flatter over time, each country's growth rate slowed in recent years despite (or perhaps because of) the threat or reality of vertical separation. Sweden, on the other hand, remains substantially above the OECD average, (121) but the growth of Swedish broadband appears to have been unaffected by policy changes.
[FIGURE 3 OMITTED]
In fact, if one plots the growth of broadband across most of the major OECD countries, one observes a convergence in both the level and the rate of growth of broadband penetration, as shown in Figure 4. (122) Still, however, four of the five countries with vertical separation--Australia, Italy, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom--remain at or near the bottom in terms of broadband penetration. Their new vertical separation policies have not resulted in more rapid broadband growth.
[FIGURE 4 OMITTED]
B. Network Investment and Fiber Deployment
In recent years, incumbents in Japan, Korea, and the United States have embarked on major programs to deploy FTTH so as to be able to offer video and super-fast broadband connections. (123) Likewise, significant fiber deployments are also underway in a handful of European countries. (124) However, incumbent carriers generally are not deploying FTTH infrastructures, especially in countries that have imposed mandatory vertical separation, (125) suggesting that such deployments are indeed being hampered by mandatory separation. Moreover, the governments of three of the five countries--the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand--recently have announced plans to spend billions of public dollars to subsidize deployment of NGN broadband infrastructures, even in non-rural areas, (126) suggesting that mandatory separation has reduced private incentives to invest in NGN infrastructure sufficiently to require large public subsidies.
1. Network Investment and Fiber Deployment in the United Kingdom
In public presentations, Ofcom officials often claim that capital spending by BT is greater than that of all other EU-15 incumbent telephone companies, (127) thereby suggesting that Ofcom's policy has actually encouraged capital spending by BT. While this assertion is not quite correct, (128) it is indeed true that BT's capital expenditures per line or per unit revenue are among the highest in the EU-15, (129) though they are substantially below those of the two large U.S. incumbent carriers. BT reported that its capital expenditures were 15.7 percent of revenues for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2008. (130) By contrast, in 2007, Verizon and AT&T invested more than twenty percent of revenues in their fixed-wire operations. (131)
Among the eleven EU-15 incumbents that break out their fixed-wire and wireless spending, BT ranks second in capital spending per dollar of revenues. (132) Much of this expenditure may simply reflect the dreadful condition of BT's network at the end of the twentieth century. Capital spending by all carriers declined substantially after the telecom stock market bubble burst in 2001. Since 2003, when telecom capital expenditures reached their recent nadir, BT's capital spending has risen by thirty-three percent and by twenty-eight percent in U.S. dollars (PPP). (133) By contrast, the average spending by twelve EU-15 incumbent carriers for which data are available rose by forty-nine percent in U.S. dollars (ppp). (134)
Recent data for EU carriers' fixed-wire operations are often not reported, but BT's capital spending growth since 2005 is not generally above that of the largest carriers for which data are available. Between 2005 and 2007, BT's capital spending rose by ten percent. (135) By contrast, between 2005 and 2007, fixed-wire capital expenditures rose by eighteen percent at Telefonica and seventeen percent at Deutsche Telekom, while declining by three percent at Telecom Italia. (136) In short, there is no evidence that BT's capital spending has risen relative to other carriers since the change in regulatory policy in the United Kingdom.
With respect to fiber deployment, the United Kingdom is lagging behind many European countries as well as leaders like Japan, Korea, and the United States, a fact which has been recognized by Ofcom since at least 2007, (137) and which was emphasized by the Brown Government's June 2009 Digital Britain report, which concluded the following:
Policies of the last 25 years have injected competition to the market and extracted value from the infrastructure. We have over this period seen significant investments in successive generations of mobile networks and the cable network. But in other infrastructures, and in particular the copper fixed telecoms network, the competitive market has delivered significant upgrades in performance, but not the massive investment required to redevelop the fundamentals of network infrastructure. (138)
While Ofcom attributes this lag to a variety of factors--none of which implicate its mandatory separation regime (139)--two facts are unavoidable. First, the cable and wireless sectors have not been subjected to the same types of unbundling and mandatory separation regimes that have been applied to BT's fixed wireline network, and both sectors are investing heavily in infrastructure--most notably Virgin Media, which, as the Digital Britain report notes, is in the process of rolling out 50 Mbps service throughout its national cable network, covering fifty percent of UK homes. (140)
Second, both Ofcom and BT have spent a tremendous amount of time and energy over the past few years grappling with precisely the sorts of issues theory suggests would prove problematic in a vertically separated environment: how to deploy a next generation network in a manner that is "competitively neutral" among the various resellers. (141) Faced with demands from different types of resellers for different types of mandatory access, Ofcom has been decidedly indecisive. On the one hand, in March 2009, it stated firmly that "[w]e are not going to protect existing business models at the expense of future developments and new services for consumers." (142) At the same time, however, Ofcom promises to protect consumers from "forced migration, the removal of existing retail products and negative impact on competition" that might result from the transition to NGN networks. (143) Of course, each competitor who might potentially be harmed by a transition will argue precisely these points, i.e., the harm that would be done to its consumers if it were forced to alter its business plans to accommodate a new technology.
Ofcom's March 2009 statement also focused on the likelihood that, due to network architecture issues we discuss further below, network sharing arrangements in an NGN environment are likely to be "active" (i.e., involving the use of shared electronics) rather than "passive" (i.e., involving only the sharing of physical infrastructure such as the last-mile loop). (144) But Ofcom conceded that active sharing poses difficult challenges associated with standardization, that negotiations among industry participants (i.e., between BT and its downstream customers) may prove unsuccessful in resolving these issues, that as a result Ofcom might be forced to set detailed technological specifications, and that, even so, "there remains a risk that active products will not satisfy competitors' requirements." (145) In June 2009, Ofcom modified its network unbundling requirements for BT's deployment of fiber-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) technology. (146) It will now allow Openreach to control the electronic equipment required to operate the FTTC product as long as BT commits to passing 500,000 homes with FTTC by the end of 2010. (147) In the past, Openreach simply offered passive last-mile connections, but Ofcom decided to change its rules for FTTC in order to encourage the FTTC rollout. (148) It has also launched a new consultation on the regulation of NGN, perhaps in response to the rather gloomy assessment of the prospects for BT's fixed network provided by the Digital Britain report. (149)
In March 2010, Ofcom offered its latest regulatory approach to network sharing of next generation networks, such as FTTC. It proposes to require BT to share its new FTTC network but only on a "virtual" basis, presumably because it can be difficult to share fiber-optic lines. Thus, BT would have to provide competitors with "a virtual connection that gives OCPs a dedicated link to their customers and substantial control." (150)
In the meantime, the government has now proposed a new 50p per line tax on fixed-line telephone service in order to support a Next Generation Fund that will provide public funding for NGN deployment to as much as a third of the country. (151) The Fund would "ensure a coherent framework for network designs, operating systems, common processes and regulatory requirements so the next generation access networks across the country work as effectively as possible for all parties." (152)
In short, while other nations are rolling out FTTH infrastructures, and its own cable operator is deploying DOCSIS 3.0, the United Kingdom's plans for upgrading the traditional wireline network are dependent on the outcome of a long and difficult negotiation among BT and its downstream retail customers, with Ofcom (and perhaps now the government's Next Generation Fund) serving as mediator and referee, for which there is no certainty of success or even completion. These are precisely the sorts of transaction costs economists have in mind when describing the economic efficiency benefits of vertical integration and, conversely, precisely the sorts of difficulties we would expect to find when vertical disintegration is mandated.
2. Network Investment and Fiber Deployment in Australia, Italy, New Zealand, and Sweden
While there are many differences between the regulatory regimes and market circumstances in Australia, Italy, New Zealand, and Sweden, one thing all four countries have in common is that their incumbent, vertically separated telephone companies are not actively rolling out last-mile fiber infrastructures.
To be sure, most EU incumbents are not actively deploying fiber, with the primary exceptions being TeliaSonera (in Finland), France Telecom, (153) T-Com (Slovakia), and Telefonica (Spain), but these deployments still account for less than fifteen percent of the homes/buildings passed by FTTH systems in the European Union. (154) A recent tabulation of fiber deployments in Europe by IDATE shows that the fiber deployments in the European Union are generally being undertaken by public authorities, cable companies, electric utilities, or new competitive carriers, not the incumbent carriers. (155)
The two incumbents that have succumbed to functional separation--TeliaSonera and Telecom Italia--have not yet begun to roll out fiber to the premises. While TeliaSonera began to roll out fiber to the home in fifteen major cities in Finland in 2007, it has not launched a similar program in Sweden. (156) Nor has Telecom Italia begun to deploy fiber to the premises. In Italy, FTTH is being deployed aggressively by a non-incumbent carrier, Fastweb, which is owned by a non-EU incumbent, Swisscom, (157) which is thus doubly insulated from the European Union's penchant for promoting functional/structural separation.
In Australia, the imposition of operational separation was an integral part of what has become a four-year regulatory tug-of-war between incumbent Telstra, on the one hand, and the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission (ACCC) and Department of Broadband Communications and the Digital Economy (DBCDE), on the other. The central issue in the debate has been the ACCC's insistence on an aggressive program of local loop unbundling (ULL) (158) and its unwillingness (or inability) to credibly commit to forbearing from applying mandatory unbundling to Telstra's proposed (but thus far unbuilt) FTTN network. (159) As a result, Telstra has invested billions in its relatively unregulated backbone, 3.5G wireless, and HFC infrastructures, while significantly reducing investment on traditional last-mile access facilities. (160) In a tacit admission that the regulatory regime is incapable of supporting private-sector investment in a next generation network, the Australian government announced, in April 2009, its intention to start a new venture, the National Broadband Network (NBN) Corporation, for the purpose of investing up to AU $43 billion (about U.S. $32 billion) in a new FTTH network. (161) At the same time, the government requested comments on a proposal to impose functional separation on Telstra. (162)
The situation in New Zealand was similar. Telecom New Zealand committed, as part of the undertakings associated with functional separation, to invest in an FTTN network, though it is unclear how rapidly that investment is proceeding. (163) After all, "Separation Day" occurred only slightly more than a year ago. (164) In the meantime, as in Australia, the government has announced plans to build out an open-access fiber network through a public-private partnership, with the government investing up to NZ$1.5 billion (about U.S. $1 billion). (165) Telecom New Zealand would be prohibited from participating in the project unless it agreed to complete structural separation. (166) As with the United Kingdom and Australia, it is difficult to interpret the government's decision except as a tacit admission that its regulatory policies have made it uneconomic for the private sector to build a fiber network without government subsidies.
VI. IS VERTICAL SEPARATION AN OPTION FOR THE UNITED STATES?
Proposals to vertically separate telecommunications operators were advocated aggressively in the United States in the years immediately following passage of the Telecommunications Act, when mandatory unbundling played a major role in U.S. telecommunications policies. (167) With the FCC's decisions (in 2003 to 2005) to repeal UNE-P and line sharing, and to forbear from imposing unbundling on broadband networks, the underlying rationale for vertical separation evaporated. (168)
Now, some critics of U.S. policies are pressing policymakers to reverse course on mandatory unbundling and, having done so, to require vertical separation. For example, in a recent paper published by the New America Foundation, Marvin Ammori argues for full structural separation of copper, fiber, and cable networks (as well as separation of wireline from wireless); (169) or, if structural separation were to prove politically untenable, then "functional separation . . . [is] a necessary minimum baseline." (170) Further, Ammori concludes that "[e]ven if unbundling is not enacted, separation should be," as the network company would then have "some incentives to deal with unaffiliated ISPs and other retail providers." (171)
For reasons we have explained elsewhere, (172) we disagree with Ammori's key premises. That is, we believe the evidence demonstrates clearly that U.S. broadband policies are working well and, in particular, that the U.S. decision to rely on intermodal competition is producing high levels of innovation and investment compared with countries that have relied on mandatory unbundling.
Moreover, the costs associated with reversing nearly a decade of policy choices--and the business decisions and infrastructure investments that have been made on the basis of those choices--would be extraordinarily high. For example, largely as a result of its profacilities-based competition policies, the United States now has widely deployed digital cable and optical fiber infrastructures which--unlike the aging copper infrastructures of most other OECD countries--are not conducive to unbundling for technical and economic reasons. (173) In view of these facts and of the evidence presented above, mandatory vertical separation should not be seriously considered as a policy option in the United States.
A. Structural Separation in the U.S. Telecommunications Sector: A Brief History
The United States is no stranger to structural separation in the telecommunications sector. The 1984 breakup of AT&T is arguably the most famous instance of structural separation in any industry. Moreover, from 1970 until 1986, the FCC imposed structural separation requirements on AT&T (and, after the 1984 breakup, the Bell Operating Companies) to provide enhanced communications services (i.e., ISP services) only through structurally separate subsidiaries.
Neither experiment was successful. The breakup of AT&T into separate local and long-distance companies which were prohibited from entering each other's markets slowed the development of competition while imposing significant efficiency costs. (174) Ultimately, vertical integration was reintroduced, as the RBOCs were permitted to offer long-distance services and the two major long-distance firms, AT&T and MCI, were purchased by AT&T's divested local carriers, SBC and Verizon. (175) As Alfred Kahn noted, "[t]he twenty-year experience with AT&T's dissolution should have increased our respect for the potentially large economies of scope in telecommunications." (176)
The other major U.S. experiment with structural separation was the FCC's decision, under its Computer I and Computer II orders, (177) to require AT&T (and, after 1984, its local subsidiaries) to offer enhanced telecommunications services through a separate (wholesale) subsidiary. In its landmark 1986 Computer III decision, (178) the FCC reversed course, concluding that the efficiency costs of structural separation outweighed any possible benefits. Specifically, the FCC found that
[s]tructural separation effectively prohibits the offering of all enhanced services that could be efficiently integrated or collocated with AT&T's basic services, but that cannot be offered on a cost-effective basis subject to structural separation. Thus, as a result of our regulatory requirements, services that would provide valuable benefits to the public may never be offered.... Structural separation for AT&T's enhanced services operations may also potentially deny it the opportunity to realize economies of scope from the commonality of inputs (such as technology and expertise) that it uses to create its different products.... The costs of foregone opportunities for new services and scope economies are supplemented by the more obvious direct costs of duplicating personnel and facilities. (179)
Accordingly, the FCC concluded that "our structural separation requirements create significant inefficiencies for AT&T and consumers in the enhanced services market and should be removed and replaced with appropriate nonstructural safeguards." (180)
The failures of these two experiments with structural separation may partially explain why--despite strong urgings from new entrants to do so--the United States did not adopt a structural separation mandate as part of its efforts to implement mandatory unbundling under the Telecommunications Act. Instead, the United States pursued a "behavioral" approach, imposing and enforcing a "carrot and stick" system of incentives to encourage incumbents to offer wholesale services on a nondiscriminatory basis. (181)
The regulatory carrot was based on the government's desire to "reintegrate" local and long-distance services by allowing RBOCs to enter the long-distance market, which the RBOCs (recognizing that they were the low-cost providers of the service) were obviously eager to do. (182) Thus, the 1996 Telecommunications Act conditioned RBOC entry into interLATA long-distance markets on their completing Section 271 of the Act's "14-point checklist" of market opening steps, such as creating nondiscriminatory OSS systems for provisioning of services by wholesale customers. (183) The 14-point checklist was ultimately transformed by the FCC into thousands of pages of detailed performance standards, each of which had to be met by the RBOCs on a state-by-state basis before they were permitted to enter the long-distance market. (184)
The 1996 Act also provided for a robust regulatory stick. Under Section 251 of the Act, and corresponding provisions of state regulatory statutes, all incumbent local exchange carriers (ILECs, including smaller incumbent telephone companies as well as the seven RBOCs) were required to unbundle all network elements "necessary" for competitors to compete successfully or without which the competitors would be "impaired." (185) In implementing these provisions, the FCC specifically imposed nondiscrimination requirements, (186) which were enforceable (and enforced) by large fines. (187)
While most of the patients ultimately died in the end, the U.S. policy was at least a therapeutic success. By the end of 2004, entrants had captured nearly thirty-three million lines, of which approximately sixty percent were leased from the incumbent carriers. (188) Thus, the behavioral approach to unbundling adopted by the FCC allowed entrants to obtain access to unbundled facilities with relatively little difficulty. (189) Unfortunately, few of these carriers had viable business plans, and most vanished or were acquired at pennies on the dollar. (190) Accordingly, competitors' arguments for vertical separation, though pressed aggressively at both the state and federal levels, (191) were ultimately rejected. (192)
B. Unlike Countries That Have Adopted Functional Separation, the United States Has Virtually Ubiquitous Platform Competition
As noted above, the U.S. experiment with mandatory unbundling under the Telecommunications Act was limited primarily to voice services. By contrast, the modern debate over unbundling (and hence separation) is focused on broadband services and next generation networks. Thus, the question for policymakers is the extent to which infrastructure competition is feasible in the market for broadband communications now or in the future; and, to the extent it is not feasible, whether the benefits of unbundling (and hence allowing competition among retailer/ISPs) exceed the costs. A decision by regulators to impose mandatory unbundling is a necessary (but far from sufficient) condition for even considering a vertical separation mandate. (193)
We do not propose to fully address the nature of competition in broadband markets or the pros and cons of mandatory unbundling in this Article. We do note, however, that the case for mandatory unbundling is weaker in the United States than in most other OECD countries due to the presence of multiple competing broadband infrastructures in the United States. In contrast to most OECD countries, which rely primarily on xDSL services provided over the last-mile copper networks of telephone company incumbents, the leading broadband modality in the United States is cable modern service, which is available to ninety-three percent of U.S. households (compared with only eighty-two percent availability of DSL service) and which accounts for over forty-five percent of all broadband subscriptions (compared with thirty-one percent for xDSL). (194)
Figure 5 below shows broadband subscribers per 100 inhabitants, by technology (excluding mobile wireless), as reported by the OECD for the United States and for the five countries that have adopted some form of mandatory separation. (195) As the figure indicates, cable modern accounts for more than fifty percent of U.S. broadband subscribers, as measured by the OECD, compared with twenty-one percent for the United Kingdom, nineteen percent for Sweden, and seventeen percent for Australia. (196) Simply put, the United States--at least in part because of its decisions to rely on infrastructure competition rather than mandatory unbundling--is now blessed with two nearly ubiquitous broadband infrastructures, a fact which distinguishes it from most other OECD countries.
[FIGURE 5 OMITTED]
Moreover, competition in the United States is growing rapidly as new infrastructure competitors enter the market and existing competitors invest in major infrastructure upgrades. On the wireline front, both major U.S. telcos are investing heavily in fiber--AT&T with FTTN U-Verse project and Verizon with FiOS, an FTTH network that now passes more than fifteen million premises. (197) In response, cable companies have begun upgrading their infrastructures to DOCSIS 3.0, which permits download speeds of up to 160 Mbps. (198)
The United States is also well served by mobile broadband. All four national wireless operators offer 3G services, and ninety-two percent of Americans live in census blocks served by 3G wireless broadband service. (199) Verizon is committed to rolling out 4G LTE wireless networks beginning in 2009, (200) with AT&T scheduled to begin deployment in 2011. (201) LTE will offer peak download speeds of 50 to 60 Mbps, (202) allowing it to compete directly with wireline services. At the same time, Clearwire, with $3.2 billion in financing from Google, Intel, and some cable companies, already provides fixed wireless broadband services in fifty-seven U.S. cities, and has begun rolling out a 4G Wi-Max network. (203) Analysts now predict that wireless broadband will begin capturing share from wireline services in much the same way. (204)
In short, the U.S. broadband market is distinguished from the markets in many other developed nations by the fact that the copper telecommunications infrastructure is not the dominant broadband infrastructure. Hence, the case for unbundling the telcos' broadband networks (without unbundling cable as well) is extremely difficult to make on competition policy grounds (and likely also would be difficult to make in court). Moreover, with entry underway by multiple wireless providers, the U.S. market is clearly becoming more competitive, further weakening the prospects for unbundling.
Even the staunchest advocates of regulation seem to agree that infrastructure competition, when it is an option, is the most desirable approach. EU Commissioner Viviane Reding, for example, concluded in a recent speech that
effective infrastructure competition has been one of the main factors contributing to broadband rollout. Countries such as the Netherlands and Denmark, that have the highest broadband penetration levels in the world ahead of Korea and Japan, are those that have a real choice of infrastructures. (205)
Like Denmark and the Netherlands, the United States does have a "real choice of infrastructures," and it therefore seems unlikely that regulators will reverse course and impose mandatory unbundling, let alone vertical separation, on the U.S. market.
C. Unbundling Existing U.S. Next Generation Networks Would Be Costly, If Not Infeasible
The economic feasibility of unbundling telecommunications networks depends on the architecture of the network. In most European countries, where the rollout of next generation networks is in a very early phase, regulators are debating whether and to what extent they should dictate network architectures in order to ensure the continued viability of unbundling. (206) In the United States, where deployment of next generation networks is well advanced, that debate is largely settled. The network architectures that have been deployed in the United States are not particularly conducive to unbundling, and there is no practical way of modifying them.
Figure 6 is a very simple depiction of the differences between three types of networks: VDSL (i.e., FTTN), point-to-multipoint (also known as "passive optical network" or PON) fiber, and point-to-point (P2P) fiber. (207) Both FTTN and PON infrastructures utilize a shared optical fiber connection from the central office to a cabinet located somewhere near the customers' premises (e.g., in a neighborhood or apartment building). (208) The difference between the two is that, with FTTN, the last-mile connection (from the cabinet to the customer) is copper, whereas with PON it is fiber. (209) P2P fiber, on the other hand, utilizes a separate strand of fiber from the central office to each and every customer's premises. (210)
The difference between FTTN and PON, on the one hand, and P2P, on the other, has profound implications for unbundling. In a P2P architecture, competitors could install optical switching equipment in the incumbent's central office, just as they install DSLAMs today to deliver DSL services, allowing them to duplicate the entire network except for the "last mile." With FTTN or PON, on the other hand, competitors would need to deploy equipment in each neighborhood cabinet, which may not be economical due to the larger required investment and reduced economies of scale. In short, it may turn out unbundling of next generation networks is economically feasible only in a P2P infrastructure. If, as European regulators seem to believe, infrastructure-based, last-mile competition is also infeasible in many situations, (211) the implication is that facilities-based competition in next generation networks will require regulators not only to mandate unbundling, but also to mandate the architecture of next generation networks so as to make unbundling workable.
[FIGURE 6 OMITTED] (212)
While the wisdom of having regulators dictate network architectures and technologies is at best debatable, (213) in the United States, at least, the issue would appear to be settled. Both major incumbent carriers, AT&T (FTTN) and Verizon (PON), have deployed networks that likely make unbundling economically infeasible. Short of demanding that these two firms literally dig up billions of dollars worth of modern, high-capacity broadband infrastructure, regulators likely have no practical way of imposing an unbundling network on these firms or their broadband networks. (214) And, as we have explained, there is no basis for forcing vertical separation in the absence of mandatory unbundling. Hence, we conclude that the imposition of forced vertical separation in the United States is a solution in search of a problem (discrimination associated with mandatory unbundling) that is unlikely to arise in the first place.
There is both theoretical and empirical support for the proposition that forced vertical separation of telecommunications networks will reduce economic efficiency, slow innovation, and impede performance in markets where it is imposed. Similarly, mandatory unbundling, which vertical separation is supposed to facilitate, has also been shown to harm market performance. The evidence presented here is consistent with both propositions--that is, the evidence shows no increase in either investment or broadband penetration in nations that have mandated vertical separation; indeed, the evidence suggests that vertical separation has impeded the rollout of next generation networks. Despite renewed calls for separation mandates coming from some quarters in the United States, the growing evidence of its harmful effects, the increasing competitiveness and improving performance of the U.S. market, and the large sunk costs U.S. carriers have made in difficult-to-unbundle infrastructures demonstrate that it would be unwise to impose either mandatory unbundling or vertical separation in the United States.
(1.) For example, in the United States, the FCC is required by Section 251 (c)(3) of the 1996 Telecommunications Act to mandate that local exchange carriers provide "nondiscriminatory access to network elements on an unbundled basis" to any requesting telecommunications carder. See Telecommunications Act of 1996, Pub. L. No. 104-104, 110 Stat. 56 (codified at scattered sections of 47 U.S.C.).
(2.) For instance, the European Regulatory Group (ERG) describes the components of functional separation as follows: (1) separation of functions, (2) separation of employees, and (3) separation of information. Presumably, (3) is the mildest form of separation. See ERG, ERG Opinion on Functional Separation, (07) 44, 2007, available at http://www.erg.eu.int/doc/publications/ erg07_44_cp_on_functional_separation.pdf.
(4.) Perhaps the strongest advocate of structural separation in recent years has been Viviane Reding, the former European commissioner for information, who opined in a 2006 speech, "I believe that the policy option of structural separation could answer many competition problems that Europe's telecom markets are still facing today." Press Release, Member of the European Commission Responsible for Information Society and Media, The Review 2006 of EU Telecom rules: Strengthening Competition and Completing the Internal Market Annual Meeting of BITKOM, (June 27, 2006), available at http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=SPEECH /06/422&format=HTML&aged=1&language=EN&guiLanguage=en. See also Martin Ammori, Competition and Investment in Wireline Broadband, in AND COMMUNICATIONS FOR ALL: A POLICY AGENDA FOR A NEW ADMINISTRATION 81, 95-97 (Amit M. Schejter, ed., 2009).
(5.) For the EU, the relevant regulation is Reg. (EC) No. 2887/2000 of 18 Dec. 2000, available at http://europa.eu/legislation_summaries/ information_society/124108j_en.htm on unbundled access to the local loop.
(6.) In virtually every OECD country, the primary incumbent telephone companies own a large national network and provide retail voice, Internet, and even video services directly to final consumers. Examples include AT&T, British Telecom, France Telecom, Deutsche Telekom, NTT (Japan), and Verizon. OECD, COMMUNICATIONS OUTLOOK 2009: INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATIONS TECHNOLOGIES (2009) [hereinafter OECD COMMUNICATIONS OUTLOOK].
(7.) See, e.g., Malcolm Webb, The Emergence of Functional Separation, in INTERNATIONAL TELECOMMUNICATION UNION, TRENDS IN TELECOMMUNICATION REFORM 2008: SIX DEGREES OF SHARING 139, 144-46 (2008).
(8.) See infra Section IV. In addition, in 2007, Mongolia nationalized the infrastructure assets of its incumbent telecommunications company, thus effectively separating them from the retail operations, which continue to be private. Certain other countries, including France, have implemented less-stringent separation requirements (e.g., accounting separation). See Webb, supra note 7, at 146. See infra See. IV.
(9.) See Council of the Eur. Union, No. 15695/08 of 20 Nov. 2008, 2007 COD (0247) 21, available at http://register.consilium.europa.eu/ pdf/en/08/st15/st15695.en08.pdf.
Where the national regulatory authority concludes that the appropriate obligations imposed under Articles 9 to 13 have failed to achieve effective competition and that there are important and persisting competition problems/market failures identified in relation to the wholesale provision of certain access products, it may, as an exceptional measure, in accordance with the provisions of the second subparagraph of Article 8(3), impose an obligation on vertically integrated undertakings to place activities related to the wholesale provision of these access products in an independently operating business entity.
See also Press Release, European Parliament, Telecom Markets: Still No Overall Agreement with Council Presidency (Apr. 21, 2009), available at http://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/expert/ infopress_page/058-54125-111-04-17-909-200904211PR54124-21-04-20092009- false/defaulten.htm.
(10.) Webb, supra note 7 at 139. Australia is actively considering a more stringent "functional" separation proposal. See Australian Government, National Broadband Network: Regulatory Reform for 21st Century Broadband 20-23 (Apr. 2009) (discussion paper, available at http://www.dbcde.gov.au/_data/assets/pdf_file/0006/110013/ NBN_Regulatory_Reform_for_the_21st_Century_Broadband_low_res_ web.pdf [hereinafter National Broadband Network Discussion Paper].
(11.) See Yoshikazu Okamoto, The Influence of Market Developments and Policies on Telecommunication Investment 14 (OECD Digital Economy Papers, Paper No. 151, 2009), available at http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/222517643310. For a more complete history of unbundling in the European Union, see also Paul W.J. de Bijl & Martin Peitz, Local Loop Unbundling in Europe: Experience, Prospects and Policy Challenges, COMMS. STRATEGIES, 2005, at 33, 35-40, available at http://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de/2441/. See also Statement by the Telecommunications Authority of Hong Kong, Interconnection and Related Competition Issues, Interconnection Configurations and Basic Underlying Principles Statement No. 6 on 3 June 1995, available at http://www.ofta.gov.hk/en/tas/interconnect/ta950603.html.
(12.) Review of the Section 251 Unbundling Obligations of Incumbent Local Exchange Carriers, Report and Order and Order on Remand and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 18 F.C.C.R. 16978, paras. 3, 4 (2003).
(13.) Unbundled Access to Network Elements, Review of the Section 251 Unbundling Obligations of Incumbent Local Exchange Carriers, Order on Remand, 20 F.C.C.R. 2533 (2005). UNE-P was the most aggressive form of network unbundling for traditional voice services, as it allowed entrants to offer local services without investing in any of their own facilities. Despite the repeal of the UNE-P requirement, however, the entrants continue to have access to the incumbents' unbundled loops, using them for more than thirty-six percent of their local connections as of the end of 2007, according to the FCC's latest report. See INDUS. ANALYSIS & TECH. DIV., WlREL1NE COMPETITION BUREAU, FCC, LOCAL TELEPHONE COMPETITION: STATUS AS OF DECEMBER 31, 2007 tbl.3 (2008), available at http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DOC-285509A1.pdf.
(14.) See Appropriate Framework for Broadband Access to the Internet over Wireline Facilities, Report and Order and Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 20 F.C.C.R. 14853, para. 12 (2005).
(15.) See OECD COMMUNICATIONS OUTLOOK, supra note 6, at 53-59, tbl.2.9.
(16.) Note that the dominant firm's incentive to discriminate is largely a function of wholesale price controls. See, e.g., GEORGE YARROW AND CHRISTOPHER DECKER, REG. POL'Y INST., REFLECTIONS ON POLICY ISSUES RAISED BY NEXT-GENERATION ACCESS NETWORKS IN COMMUNICATIONS 3 (2008), available at http://www.rpieurope.org/Research/Yarrow%20Decker%20NGAN%20Report.pdf ("Strong incentives to abuse dominant positions characterised by vertical integration are caused chiefly by price regulation, which heavily constrains profits at a particular point in the vertical chain. Structural separation is, in effect, usually a remedy for incentive distortions that would not exist but for tight price controls.").
(17.) Implementation of the Local Competition Provisions in the Telecommunications. Act of 1996, First Report and Order, 11 F.C.C.R. 15499, para. 307 (1996) [hereinafter First Report and Order]. See also Webb, supra note 7, at 141 (listing various forms of non-price discrimination).
(18.) See, e.g., Paul W. J. de Bijl, Structural Separation and Access in Telecommunications Markets 6 (CESifo, Working Paper No. 1554, 2005), available at http://www.cesifo-group.de/DocCIDL/cesifol_wp1554.pdf ("Separation eliminates the incumbent's retail operation's ability and incentives to discriminate in the downstream market. In particular, it eliminates the incumbent's incentives and possibilities, whether legal, economic or technical, to raise the costs of its rival firms by reducing quality or increasing the cost of access, which would lead to 'double marginalization' and hence an inefficiency."). See also OECD, WORKING PARTY ON TELECOMMUNICATION AND INFORMATION SERVICES POLICIES, THE BENEFITS AND COSTS OF STRUCTURAL SEPARATION OF THE LOCAL LOOP 9 (2003); Webb, supra note 7, at 143.
(19.) Vertical separation may also facilitate the regulator's ability to impose an equivalence of input (EOI) nondiscrimination standard. Under an EOI standard, the network operator is required to provide its affiliated retailer with precisely the same services as its competitors. Under an equivalence of outputs standard, on the other hand, the unaffiliated retailers may be offered different but equivalent services. See, e.g., Webb, supra note 7, at 143. See also National Broadband Network Discussion Paper, supra note 10, at 19.
(20.) See e.g., Martin Cave, Six Degrees of Separation: Operational Separation as a Remedy in European Telecommunications Regulation, COMMS. & STRATEGIES, 2006.
(21.) See e.g., id.
(22.) See id.
(23.) See id.
(24.) See id.
(25.) See id.
(26.) For a useful discussion of the various forms of separation, see id. at 89.
(27.) In 2007, the Australian-based owners of Ireland's incumbent carrier, Eircom, proposed voluntarily to structurally separate its retail from its wholesale operations but pulled back in the face of financial difficulties. The firm has since been sold to new owners. See Webb, supra note 7, at 145; see also Andris Brieze et al, Functional Separation in Central and Eastern Europe, KPMG (Mar. 2009) at 19, available at http://www.kpmg.com.co/publicaciones/Biblioteca_Virtual/archivos/ ICE/2009/julio/Functional%20Separation%20in%20Central% 20&%20Eastern%20Europe.pdf; see also Ciara O'Brien, Terms Agreed for Eircom Sale, IRISH TIMES (Sept. 14, 2009), available at http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/breaking/2009/0914/breakingl4.html. As discussed in Section IV, some carders have engaged in separation while under pressure from regulators to do so but prior to the issuance of formal regulatory commands. We do not regard these cases as examples of "voluntary" separation in the sense used here.
(28.) See R. H. Coase, The Nature of the Firm, 4 ECONOMICA 386 (1937).
(29.) See id.
(30.) See infra, notes 34-42 and accompanying text.
(31.) See supra notes 19-27 and accompanying text.
(32.) See, e.g., Oliver E. Williamson, The Economics of Antitrust: Transaction Cost Considerations, 122 U. PA. L. REV. 1439, 1443 (1974).
[T]he transaction cost approach attempts to identify a set of market or transactional factors which together with a related set of human factors explain the circumstances under which complex contracts involving contingent claims will be costly to write, execute, and enforce. Faced with such difficulties, and considering the risks that simple, and therefore incomplete, contingent claims contracts pose, the firm may decide to bypass the market and resort to hierarchical modes of organization. Transactions that might otherwise be handled in the market would then be performed internally and governed by administrative processes.
(33.) See, e.g., Benjamin Klein, Robert G. Crawford, & Armen A. Alchian, Vertical Integration, Appropriable Rents, and the Competitive Contracting Process, 21 J.L. & ECON. 297, 298 (1978).
The crucial assumption underlying the analysis of this paper is that, as assets become more specific and more appropriable quasi rents are created (and therefore the possible gains from opportunistic behavior increases), the costs of contracting will generally increase more than the costs of vertical integration. Hence, ceteris paribus, we are more likely to observe vertical integration.
(34.) Francine Lafontaine & Margaret Slade, Vertical Integration and Firm Boundaries: The Evidence, 45 J. ECON. LIT. 629, 653 (2007). In addition to the "moral hazard" and "transactions cost" theories of vertical integration discussed herein, Lafontaine and Slade also discuss the "property rights" theory, but find little empirical support for it. Id. at 650-53, 658-60.
(35.) Id. at 631-60.
(36.) Id. at 658-59.
(37.) Id. at 658. Lafontaine and Slade's findings are consistent with those of other reviews. See, e.g., Howard A. Shelanski & Peter G. Klein, Empirical Research in Transaction Cost Economics: A Review and Assessment, 11 J.L. ECON. & ORG. 335, 344 (1995) ("To sum up, the evidence on the transactional determinants of vertical integration seems quite striking. Asset specificity and uncertainty appear to have significant effects on the vertical structure of production. This is especially remarkable when compared with the relative dearth of evidence on market-power explanations for integration."). See also Paul L. Joskow, Vertical Integration, in ISSUES IN COMPETITION LAW & POLICY 273 (Wayne Dale Collins, et al. eds., 2008).
(38.) See Lafontaine & Slade, supra note 34, at 673.
(39.) See id. at tbl. 16.
(40.) See id. at 680.
(41.) See, e.g., JEAN-JACQUES LAFFONT AND JEAN TIROLE, COMPETITION IN TELECOMMUNICATIONS (2000); see also W. KIP VISCUSI, JOSEPH E. HARRINGTON JR. AND JOHN M. VERNON, ECONOMICS OF REGULATION AND ANTITRUST 523-53 (4th ed. 2005).
(44.) For an early discussion of the technology, see Matti Rantanen, FTTH-Fiber to the Home (1998), available at http://users.tkk.fi/mjrantan/FTTH.html.
(45.) For example, Verizon recently announced an acceleration in its deployment of 4G. See Press Release, Verizon Wireless, Verizon Wireless' 4G LTE Network Testing Promises Significantly Faster Speeds Than Current 3G Networks, (Mar. 8, 2010), available at http://news.vzw.com/news/2010/03/pr2010-03-02b.html. Sprint-Clearwire is the leader in deploying WiMax. See Phil Goldstein, Sprint Drops the Price of Mobile WiMax by another $10, WIRELESS NEWS, Jan. 15, 2010, available at http://community.sprint.com/baw/thread/26309.
(46.) The fact that vertical integration is generally preferred does not mean that contracting out or reselling can never be efficient. For example, despite the repeal of the most aggressive mandatory unbundling rules, U.S. CLECs continue to provide telecommunications services, primarily to small- and medium-sized businesses, indicating that single-purpose (vertically disintegrated) entities may have some efficiency advantages in this portion of the market. Examples of such companies are XO Communications, Cogent Communications, and Time Warner Telecom.
(47.) See OECD COMMUNICATIONS OUTLOOK, supra note 6, at 27-37.
(48.) The FCC has repeatedly recognized the costs of vertical separation requirements.
See, e.g., Section 272(f)(1) Sunset of the BOC Separate Affiliate & Related Requirements, Report and Order and Memorandum Opinion and Order, 22 F.C.C.R. 16440, para. 82 (2007) ("[Separate affiliate] restrictions not only impose additional costs, but also prevent the BOCs from taking advantage of the economies of scope and scale associated with integrated operation that their competitors are able to realize."); Id. at para. 83 ("These restrictions also may prevent the BOCs and their affiliates from quickly responding to technological and marketplace developments .... The required duplicative management of the two affiliated companies creates unnecessary inefficiencies in decision making and may therefore increase the costs and delay deployment of new services."); Id. at 16480 n.238 (citing previous decisions in which the FCC has reached similar conclusions).
(49.) For a detailed history of Ford's backward integration into the production of steel and glass, see ALLAN NEVINS & FRANK EARNEST HILL, FORD: THE TIMES, THE MAN, AND THE COMPANY (1954).
(50.) See Richard N. Langlois & Paul L. Robertson, Explaining Vertical Integration: Lessons from the American Automobile Industry, 49 J. OF ECON. HIST. 361(1989).
(51.) Among those sharing this view is former Ofcom Commissioner Kip Meek (who negotiated the functional separation agreement between British Telecommunications (BT) and Ofcom). See KIp MEEK, INGENIOUS CONSULTING NETWORK, OPERATIONAL SEPARATION IN AUSTRALIA AND THE UK 24 (2008), available at http://www.archive.dbcde.gov.au/2009/april/national broadband network/consultation/request_for_submissions_on_regulatory_issues/ submissions/Indigenous_consultimg_group.pdf [hereinafter MEEK 2008] ("The demand risks and uncertainties associated with building an NGN, especially where it is intended to replace the PSTN, seem to me to raise doubts about whether a non-vertically integrated approach would be able to achieve the necessary level of investment co-ordination.").
(52.) See infra Section III.B.
(53.) See infra Section III.A.
(54.) See Press Release, Ofcom, A New Regulatory Approach for Fixed Telecommunications (June 26, 2005), available at http://www.ofcom.org.uk/media/news/2005/06/nr_20050623 [hereinafter Ofcom Press Release 2005] ("Ofcom has concluded that a new approach is necessary for the longer term, based on real equality of access to those parts of the fixed telecoms network which BT's competitors cannot fairly replicate.").
The proposed undertakings offered by BT will stipulate the setting up of a new and operationally separate-business unit, provisionally entitled Access Services, but with a distinct new brand and identity to be devised in the coming weeks. The new business unit will be staffed by around 30,000 employees presently responsible for the operation and development of BT's local access networks.
Id. See also Webb, supra note 7, at 144.
(56.) Ofcom Press Release 2005, supra note 54.
The new business unit will be required, through a set of formal rules on governance and separation, to support all providers' retail activities (including those of BT Retail) on a precisely equivalent basis, which Ofcom terms 'Equivalence of Input'. [sic] Equivalence of Input will mean that all providers will benefit from:
* the same products, with equal opportunity to contribute to the development of new products;
* the same prices, offered to all providers equally; and
* the same processes, to ensure all providers are able to order, install, maintain and migrate connections for their customers on equal terms.
(57.) For a history of Of Com and Oftel, consult the Of Com Web site and the links to the legacy regulator, Of tel.. Statutory Duties and Regulatory Principles, http://www.ofcom.org.uk/about/sdrp/ (last visited Apr. 10, 2010). See also Oftel Telecommunications Ofcom British Adsl Office Regulator, http://www.economicexpert.com/a/Oftel.html (last visited Apr. 10, 2010).
(58.) Strategic Review Telecommunications Phase 2 Consultation Document, http.://www.ofcom.org.uk/consult/condocs/telecoms_p2/ (documents available through various on screen links) (last visited Apr. 10, 2010).
(61.) See Jo Best, NTI: Telewest to Become Virgin Media, SILICON.COM (Nov. 8, 2006), available at http://www.silicon.com/technology/networks/ 2006/11/08/ntltelewest-to-become-virgin-media-39163928/.
(62.) See Jason Whalley and Peter Curwen, Is Functional Separation BT-Style the Answer?, COMMS. & STRATEGIES, 2008, at 145, 147-48.
(64.) FCC, High Speed Services for Internet Access: Status as of June 30, 2003, Industry Analysis and Technology Division, Wireline Competition Bureau, Dec. 2003, tbl. 1; ECTA, Broadband Scorecard, June 2003.
(65.) See OFCOM, STRATEGIC REVIEW OF TELECOMMUNICATIONS PHASE 2 CONSULTATION DOCUMENT (2004), available at http://www.ofcom.org.uk/ consult/condocs/telecoms_p2/tsrphase2/annexO.pdf [hereinafter OFCOM REPORT 2004].
(66.) Meek indicates that unique aspects of Ofcom's statutory authority made it "at minimum cumbersome" for Ofcom to impose behavioral regulation, thus making vertical separation a relatively more attractive option. MEEK 2008, supra note 51, at 8.
(67.) Ofcom was quite vague in describing its negative view of cable competition in written documents. It opined in its Phase 2 Consultation document, OFCOM REPORT 2004, supra note 65:
the technology shift to IP-based networks requires new investment, to supply what are likely to be products with lower margin than was available in the legacy products and services. There is little appetite for new investment to compete with BT Group plc at the local access level, and in some areas even in backhaul from the Local Exchange to the core network. This is a challenge.
(68.) The Phase 2 Consultation Document offered the following observation: "On the final question posed--whether structural or operational separation of BT Group plc, or full functional equivalence, still remained relevant issues--the answer from the Phase 1 consultation was that, yes, they were still relevant; more so perhaps than we had anticipated." Id.
(69.) See OFCOM, UNDERTAKINGS GIVEN TO OFCOM BY BT PURSUANT TO THE ENTERPRISE ACT OF 2002 (2005), available at http://www.ofcom.org.uk/ telecoms/btundertakings/consolidated.pdf.
(72.) OFCOM REPORT 2004, supra note 65, at 2.
(73.) Id. at para. 0.7.
(74.) ECTA data for 2002-III and 2005-III, available at www.ectaportal.com.
(75.) Based on data compiled by the European Competitive Telecommunications Association (ECTA). See OECD Broadband Portal, supra note 75.
(76.) Telecommunications Legislation Amendment (Competition and Consumer Issues) Act, 2005, no. 119 (Austl.), available at http://www.comlaw.gov.au/ComLaw/Legislation/Act1.nsf/0/ EF7D9BB244FFE2F6CA25713A001E26C8/$file/119-2005.pdf.
(77.) Press Release, Senator the Hon. Helen Coonan, Minister for Communications, Information Technology, and the Arts (June 23, 2006), available at http://www.minister.dcita.gov.au/coonan/media/media_releases/ telstras_operational_separation_plan_approved.
Telstra is required to establish and maintain within the company separate wholesale, retail and key network services business units. This is designed to prevent the internal functions that Telstra's wholesale customers rely upon to compete effectively with Telstra from being operated in a way that systematically advantages Telstra's retail business.
(78.) See Id.
(79.) See id. ("'In fact, Telstra is now required to have separate staff and separate premises for the Telstra wholesale and Telstra retail business units. Anyone who works for Telstra retail unit can no longer work for the wholesale unit.'") (internal quotations included).
(80.) Operational Seperation, Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy Archive Site, http://www.archive.dcita.gov.au/2007/ 11/connect_australia/operational_separation (last visited Apr. 10, 2010) ("Telstra's retail business units must have no control over, or responsibility for, the marketing, contracting or supply of services to wholesale customers.").
(81.) Webb, supra note 7, at 145.
(82.) Telecom Italia's Undertakings: Building Up on Operational Separation Model, Presentation at the Workshop on "Models of Network Separation" in London, Slide 10 (Mar. 6, 2009), power point presentation available at http://www.telecomitalia.it/ content/dam/telecomitalia/it/archivio/documenti/Investitori/ Presentazioni/Investor_Relation s/2009/TI_Undertaking_presentation_for_workshop_London_6march09.pdf. In addition, see Italian Communications Authority Web Site, http://www2.agcom.it/eng/eng_intro.htm (last visited Apr. 10, 2010) ("The Communications Regulatory Authority (Agcom) is an independent authority, established by Law n. 249 of 31 July 1997.... to ensure equitable conditions for fair market competition."). See also Webb supra note 7.
(83.) Resolution on Measures To Ensure the Full Application of the Principle of Internal and External Equal Treatment by Operators With Significant Market Power in Fixed Telephony, ITALIAN AGCOM DOC. 152/02/CONS (2002), available at http://www2.agcom.it/eng/resolutions/2002/d152_02_CONS.pdf ("Telecom Italia currently is an operator with significant market power in the market for fixed public telephony network and services, in the market for leased lines systems, in the national interconnection market.").
[T]he Authority started a preliminary investigation to assess the opportunity to take steps to ensure compliance with the requirement of internal and external equal treatment, more specifically in relation to the provision of intermediate services to Telecom Italia's competitors and the concurrent presence of the latter company in the market for finished products developed by Telecom Italia's competitors purchasing the foregoing intermediate services ...
Id. at para. 1.
(85.) Webb, supra note 7, at 145.
(87.) Id. See also Barbara Esbin, Functional Separation, Italian Style, PROGRESS ON POINT, at 7-8 (Mar. 2009), available at http://www.pff.org/issuespubs/pops/2009/ pop16.9functionalseparationitalian.pdf.
(88.) Webb, supra note 7, at 145.
(90.) Global Insight, Telecom Italia Caves in to Functional Separation, Feb. 14, 2008, available at http://www.globalinsight.com/SDA/SDADetail11538.htm.
(91.) Giovanni Battista Amendola, Telecom Italia, Power Point Presentation at the Workshop on Policy for Next Generation Networks: European and US Perspectives at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge (Mar. 27, 2009), available at http://cfp.mit.edu/groups/INTERCONNECTIONWG_DOCS/March-27-2009/ Amendola%20MIT_%20Operational_Separation_Final.PPT.
(92.) See Esbin, supra note 87, at 7-8.
(94.) Telecommunications Amendment Act (No 2) 2006, 2006 No 83 (N.Z.).
(95.) Cath Hart, Telecom NZ in Three Degrees of Separation, THE AUSTRALIAN, Apr. 1, 2008, available at www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197, 23462905-20142,00.html ("Under the new arrangements, TNZ will keep its retail, network and wholesale operations at arm's-length from one another, in a model similar to that used by British Telecom when it separated its network and wholesale operations in 2005.").
(96.) Operational Separation of Telecom, www.med.govt.nz/templates/ ContentTopicSummary.__26310.aspx (last visited Apr. 10, 2010).
(97.) Marta Ienco, Senior Consultant, Ovum Consulting, A Review of Functional/Structural Separation Models around the World, ITU Centres of Excellence Training Workshop on "Infrastructure Sharing Potential- Consideration of Separation Models" in Athens, Slide 9, power point presentation available at http://about.ovum.com/consulting/telecomsregulation/thoughtleadership/ thoughtleadership1.pdf, Slide 9.
(98.) Telecommunications Amendment Act (No 2) 2006, 2006 No 83 [section] 69E (N.Z.) ("Section 69D(1)(f) requires equivalence of supply of wholesale telecommunications services and access to Telecom's network so that third party access seekers are treated in the same or an equivalent way to Telecom's own business operations, including in relation to pricing, procedures, operational support, supply of information, and other relevant matters.").
(99.) See infra note 100 and accompanying text.
(100.) See Bo Andersson, Swedish Post and Telecom Agency (PTS), Functional Separation in Sweden--New Remedy in the Electronic Communications Act, PowerPoint Presentation at the 3rd International Conference on Broadband Internet (June 7, 2008), available at www.eett.gr/conference2008/pdf/Andersson.pdf.
(102.) See id.
(104.) SWEDISH POST & TELECOM AGENCY (PTS), STRATEGIC AGENDA 2009, at 28 (Report No. PTS-ER-2008:19, 2008), available at www.pts.se/upload/Rapporter/ OmPTS/Strategisk%20Agenda%202009_eng.pdf.
(105.) SWEDISH POST & TELECOM AGENCY (PTS), STRATEGIC AGENDA 2010, at 47-48 (Report No. PTS-ER-2009:27, 2009), available at http://www.pts.se/ upload/Rapporter/OmPTS/strategic-agenda-2010-pts-er- 2009-27.pdf.
(106.) Id. at 48 ("The statutory amendment also provides regulatory authorities with the possibility to accept a voluntary commitment concerning functional separation. TeliaSonera formed a subsidiary company, Skanova Access, whose main task is to supply copper access lines on non-discriminatory terms.").
(107.) Andersson, supra note 100. See also Press Release, TeliaSonera, Skanova Access Meets Swedish Telecom Operators' Infrastructure Needs on Equal Terms (Dec. 27, 2007), available at http://www.cisionwire.com/teliasonera/ skanova-access-meets-swedish-telecomoperators--infrastructure-needs- on-equal-terms-.
(108.) Our analysis obviously is qualitative and does not formally correct for exogenous policy or other factors that may have affected outcomes, such as changes in the terms and rates for leasing of wholesale services. For example, the 2008-09 decision by BT to announce accelerated deployment of its FTTC product is attributed by most analysts to more favorable wholesale terms granted by Ofcom. See Jennifer Schenker, BT Rolls Out a Massive Fiber Network, BUS. WK., July 15, 2008, available at http://www.businessweek.com/globalbiz/content/jul2008/ gb20080715_837495.htm?chan=search.
(109.) See Ofcom Press Release 2005, supra note 54.
(110.) Data Compilations (detailed spreadsheets of data compilation on file with the author and the Federal Communications Law Journal) [hereinafter Data Compilations]; see also European Competitive Telecomms. Assoc. (ECTA), Broadband Scorecard, http://www.ectaportal.com/en/REPORTS/Broadband-Scorecards/ Broadband-Scorecard2008/.
(111.) Data Compilations, supra note 110.
(113.) See also eCommunications: Implementation and Enforcement of the Current Rules, Europa Information Society, http://ec.europa.eu/information_society/policy/ecomm/ implementation_enforcement/index_en.htm (last visited Apr. 10, 2010). These data are virtually identical to the ECTA data, differing only slightly because the months used for reporting are slightly different, i.e., September vs. October. See also Data Compilations, supra note 110.
(114.) Data Compilations, supra note 110.
(116.) Id. The most recent ECTA data are for the third quarter of 2008.
(118.) See OECD Broadband Portal, supra note 75.
(122.) Data Compilations, supra note 110.
(123.) OECD Broadband Portal, supra note 75.
(125.) For example, all EU-15 countries must mandate network unbundling. According to the latest ECTA data for 2009-I, the number of incumbent-carrier fiber connections was 108,554 across a region with a population of 380 million. See Broadband Scorecard 2009, http://www.ectaportal.eom/en/REPORTS/Broadband-Scorecards/ Broadband-Scorecard-2009/(last visited Apr. 10, 2010). In the United States, Verizon alone reported 2.8 million FiOS (FTTH) Internet subscribers in the first quarter of 2009. See Verizon Communications, Quarterly Report (Form 10-Q) (Mar. 31. 2009), available at http://investor.verizon.com/sec/sec_frame.aspx?Filing ID=6595700&haspdf=0&hasxls=1&hasxbrl=0&xbrlUrl=#.
(126.) See supra notes, 113, 122, 124 and accompanying text.
(127.) For example, as early as 2004, Of Com published BT's assertion that "BT already invests a higher proportion of its turnover than any other major European telco." BT, Investment & Innovation: creating a competitive advantage for the UK, BT's Response to Phase 1 Consultation Document (June 22, 2004), available at http://www.ofcom.org.uk/consult/condocs/telecoms_review1/ responses/a_h/bt.pdf.
(128.) Data Compilation, supra note 110.
(130.) See BT Group PLC Annual Report 2008, http://www.btplc.com/report/Report08/Financialstatements/index.htm (last visited Apr. 8, 2010).
(131.) All data are from the companies' annual financial reports. It is necessary to eliminate Verizon's and AT&T's wireless spending in order to compare their spending with BT's capital expenditures. BT spun off its wireless operations in 2001. BT Group- Business Review Restructuring, http://www.btplc.com/report/business_restructure.shtml (last visited Apr. 10, 2010).
(132.) Data derived from the annual financial reports of Telekom Austria, Belgacom, British Telecom, Deutsche Telecom, KPN, OTE (Greece), Portugal Telecom, TDC, TeliaSonera, Telecom Italia, and Telefonica in 2006. By 2008, only seven of these companies reported separate wireless and wireline capital spending, and BT had dropped to third place in capex/revenues among these seven companies. Data Compilation, supra note 110.
(133.) See Annual Report & Summary Financial Statement, http://www.btplc.com/sharesandperformance/annualreportandreview/ annualreportandreview.htm (last visited Apr. 10, 2010). All BT data are for the year ending the following March 31. Thus, this calculation is based on the change in capital spending for the years ending March 31, 2004 and March 31, 2008. All other carriers' data are for calendar years.
(134.) See supra, note 94.
(137.) OFCOM, FUTURE BROADBAND: POLICY APPROACH TO NEXT GENERATION ACCESS CONSULTATION, at 26 (2007), available at http://www.ofcom.org.uk/ consult/condocs/nga/future_broadband_nga.pdf [hereinafter OFCOM SEPTEMBER 2007 REPORT] ("From this assessment of the UK's specific situation, it appears likely that the UK will witness later deployment of large scale next generation access networks than some other countries.").
(138.) DEP'T FOR CULTURE, MEDIA & SPORT & DEP'T FOR BUS., INNOVATION & SKILLS, DIGITAL BRITAIN: FINAL REPORT, 2009, Cm. 7650, at 47, available at http://www.culture.gov.uk/images/publications/digitalbritain-final report-jun09.pdf (emphasis added) [hereinafter DIGITAL BRITAIN].
(139.) See OFCOM SEPTEMBER 2007 REPORT, supra note 137, at 21.
(140.) DIGITAL BRITAIN, supra note 148, at 13.
(141.) See OFCOM SEPTEMBER 2007 REPORT, supra note 137. See also OFCOM, NEXT GENERATION NEW BUILD: PROMOTING HIGHER SPEED BROADBAND IN NEW BUILD HOUSING DEVELOPMENTS (2008), available at http://www.ofcom.org.uk/consult/ condocs/newbuild/condoc.pdf; Chinyelu Onwurah, INFRASTRUCTURE SHARING--PROMOTING COMPETITION IN NEXT GENERATION FIXED ACCESS (January 2008), available at http://www.ofcom.org.uk/telecoms/discussnga/presspeech/infra.pdf. More recent activities are discussed immediately below. Competitive neutrality is a central theme throughout these consultations and presentations.
(142.) OFCOM, DELIVERING SUPER-FAST BROADBAND IN THE UK: PROMOTING INVESTMENT AND COMPETITION STATEMENT, 63-64 (2009), www.ofcom.org.uk/consult/ condocs/nga_future_broadband/statement/statement.pdf.
(143.) Id. at 64.
(144.) Id. at 30-36.
(145.) Id. at 35.
(146.) OFCOM, VARIATION TO BT'S UNDERTAKINGS UNDER THE ENTERPRISE ACT 2002 RELATED TO FIBRE-TO-THE-CABINET STATEMENT l (2009), available at http://ofcom.org.uk/consult/condocs/fttc/statement/.
(149.) In July 2009, BT announced it would pass up to one million homes with FTTC or FTTH broadband by early 2010, a significant increase over its previous plans. Ray Le Maistre, BT Ramps Its FTTx Plans, LIGHT READING EUROPE, July 9, 2009, http://www.lightreading.com/document.asp?doc_id=179019. BT continued making announcements increasing its rollout targets throughout late 2009 and into early 2010. See e.g,. Chris Williams, B T Names 63 More Exchanges for Fibre Upgrades, THE REGISTER (Jan. 6, 2010), available at http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/01/06/ bt_upgrades/. As of early 2010 the company had not provided any evidence of having met the one million premises commitment, though it said it would pass four million premises by year end. See BT Group plc, Q3 2009/10 Results, at 11 (Feb. 11, 2010), available at http://www.btplc.com/ Sharesandperformance/Quarterlyresults/Financialpresentations/q310slides.pdf. Given the "stop-start" history of BT's recent fiber deployment plans, however, there is reason for skepticism regarding such commitments. See, e.g., OFCOM, NEXT GENERATION NETWORKS: RESPONDING TO RECENT DEVELOPMENTS TO PROTECT CONSUMERS, PROMOTE EFFECTIVE COMPETITION AND SECURE EFFICIENT INVESTMENT 3 (2009), available at www.ofcom.org.uk/consult/condocs/ngndevelopments/main.pdf.
For the past five years, since BT announced its intention to build 21CN [its proposed next generation fiber network], the expectation has been that in the not too distant future, BT would replace its Public Switched Telephone Network ("PSTN") in its entirety. Following a strategic review of its plans for 21CN, BT has decided to step back from this vision of a complete replacement of its PSTN.... This change in outlook has created considerable uncertainty.
(150.) OFCOM, Review of the Wholesale Local Access Market, Mar. 23, 2010, at 4.
(151.) DIGITAL BRITAIN, supra note 138, at 65.
(153.) France Telecom has begun a modest rollout of fiber, apparently in Paris, but the principal supplier of FTTH services in France is the cable company, Numericable, which is not subject to telecom regulation. Numericable had passed an estimated 4.4 million homes by December 2009, according to IDATE, while France Telecom had passed just 570,000. FTTx 2010 MARKETS & TRENDS, FACTS & FIGURES 20-28 (2010), available at http://www.idate.org/2009/pages/download.php?id=112&t=f_telech_actu &fic=FTTx_2010_IDATE.pdf&repertoire=news/502 _FTTH_Summit [hereinafter IDATE 2010].
(154.) Id. (showing incumbents have deployed 2.86 million out of 20.93 million fiber lines, or 14.8 percent).
(155.) Press Release, IDATE, Inventory of FTTH in Europe: Situation in Eastern Europe and the Middle East (Feb. 11, 2009), available at www.tendencias21.net/ attachment/126087/. Notably, Telefonica decided to begin rolling out a new FTTH only when its regulator apparently provided it with assurances that Telefonica would not be subjected to intrusive regulation of its new fiber facilities. In its 2008 Annual Report, Telefonica noted that
[a]s for broadband, 2008 marked the definition of the regulatory framework applicable to the rollout of new generation access networks using optic fiber and the services provided over them, enabling the launch at year-end of a new family of Future services. Among the noteworthy principles established by the sector watchdog in the regulations governing the new generation networks (NGNs) is the express acknowledgement that to foster investment and innovation, NGN regulations need to differ significantly from the rules governing copper networks.
TELEFONICA, 2008 FINANCIAL REPORT 113 (2008), available at http://publicaciones.telefonica.com/mpd/Visor.svc?first_page=12& publication=TELEFONI CA-IF-2008&publisher=TELEFONICA-INFORMEANUAL-EN (select pdf version).
(156.) IDATE 2010, supra note 153. For details on Telia-Sonera's FTTH roll out in Finland, see Press Release, Alcatel-Lucent, TeliaSonera and Alcatel-Lucent Deploy First Countrywide 100 Mbps Access Network in Finland (Sept. 7, 2009).
(157.) See IDATE 2010, supra note 153, showing Fastweb having deployed 2,000,000 fiber lines as of December 2010 compared with 100,000 for Telecom Italia.
(158.) In urban areas, ULL is offered at prices sufficiently low that Telstra's primary competitor, Optus, relies on ULL to serve new customers even when those customers are passed by Optus' own hybrid-fiber network. See Australian Consumer and Competition Commission, Telstra application for fixed line services exemption in Optus cable network areas (December 2007), available at http://www.accc.gov.au/content/ index.phtml/itemId/806382; see also Henry Ergas & Richard Ralph, A Policy Framework for a New Broadband Network, in AUSTRALIA'S BROADBAND FUTURE: FOUR DOORS TO GREATER COMPETITION 32 (Comm. for Econ. Dev. of Austl., 2008).
(159.) See, e.g., Jeffrey A. Eisenach & Hal J. Singer, Irrational Expectations: Can a Regulator Credibly Commit to Removing an Unbundling Obligation? (AEI-Brookings Joint Ctr. for Regulatory Studies, Working Paper Series No. 07-28, 2007), available at http://papers.ssm.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1065161.
(160.) For example, Telstra's investment in fixed customer access facilities dropped by 21.4 percent in the year following imposition of operational separation, despite increased spending on its unregulated HFC network. TELSTRA, 2007 ANNUAL REPORT 44-45 (2007).
(161.) See National Broadband Network Discussion Paper, supra note 10, at 7.
(162.) Id. at 17.
(163.) See MINISTRY OF ECON. DEV., TELECOM SEPARATION A FACT--MINISTER FOR COMMUNICATIONS AND INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY MEDIA STATEMENT (2008), available at http://www.med.govt.nz/templates/MultipageDocumentTOC34436.aspx ("Telecom has committed to the accelerated rollout of fast broadband that will deliver advanced broadband services to all cities and towns with more than 500 lines by 2012. Telecom announced the details of its cabinetisation plans and investment of $1.4 billion late last year. These plans have been built into the Separation Plan and in some circumstances extended.").
(164.) See supra note 96 and accompanying text.
(165.) New Zealand Government, Ultra-fast Broadband Investment Initiative, MINISTRY OF ECON. DEV., Overview of Initiative (2009), available at http://www.med.govt.nz/upload/69988/Ultra-fast-Broadband-Initiative -Overview.pdf.
(166.) Id. at 11.
(167.) For a discussion of these proposals, see Mark A. Jamison & James Sichter, Business Separation in Telecommunications." Lessons from the U.S. Experience, 23 June, 2008, available at http://warrington.ufl.edu/purc/purcdocs/papers/ 0809_Jamison_Business_Separation_in.pdf.
(168.) See Triennial Review Remand Resources, http://www.fcc.gov/wcb/cpd/triennial_review/triennialremand.html (last visited Apr. 10, 2010) for a list of FCC decisions regarding competition and network sharing.
(169.) Ammori, supra note 4, at 95-97. The full New American Foundation working group of which Ammori was a part also endorses structural separation. See AMIT M. SCHEJTER, AND COMMUNICATIONS FOR ALL: A POLICY AGENDA FOR A NEW ADMINISTRATION, at xii (2009).
(170.) Ammori, supra note 4, at 97.
(172.) See, e.g., Robert W. Crandall, Allan T. Ingraham & Hal J. Singer, Do Unbundling Policies Discourage CLEC Facilities-Based Investment, 4 TOPICS IN ECON. ANALYSIS & POL'Y (2004); Jeffrey A. Eisenach, Broadband in the U.S.-Myths and Facts, in AUSTRALIA'S BROADBAND FUTURE: FOUR DOORS TO GREATER COMPETITION 48 (Comm. for Econ. Dev. of Austl., 2008).
(173.) See Figure 6 and attendant discussion below.
(174.) See, e.g., Paul W. MacAvoy, Testing for Competitiveness of Markets for Long Distance Telephone Services: Competition Finally?, 13 REV. OF INDUS. ORG. 295 (1998).
(175.) See Marguerite Reardon, Verizon Closes Book on MCI Merger, CNET NEWS, Jan. 6, 2006, available at http://news.cnet.com/SBC-closes-AT38T-acquisition/ 2100-1036_3-5961206.html.
(176.) ALFRED E. KAHN, LESSONS FROM DEREGULATION: TELECOMMUNICATIONS AND AIRLINES AFTER THE CRUNCH 24 (2004).
(177.) Amendment of Section 64.702 of the Commission's Rules and Regs (Second Computer Inquiry), Final Decision, 77 F.C.C.2d 384 (1980); Regulatory and Policy Problems Presented by the Interdependence of Computer and Communications Services and Facilities, Final Decision and Order, 28 F.C.C.2d 267 (1971); Regulatory and Policy Problems Presented by the Interdependence of Computer and Communication Services and Facilities, Tentative Decision of the Commission, 28 F.C.C.2d 291 (1970).
(178.) Amendment of Sections 64.702 of the Commission's Rules and Regulations (Third Computer Inquiry), Report and Order, 104 F.C.C.2d 958 (1986).
(179.) Id. paras. 79-81.
(180.) Id. para. 79.
(181.) 47 U.S.C. [section][section] 251,271.
(182.) See, e.g., Jerry A. Hausman, Gregory K. Leonard and J. Gregory Sidak, Does Bell Company Entry into Long-Distance Telecommunications Benefit Consumers?, 70 ANTITRUST L. J. 463,482 (2002).
(183.) See 47 U.S.C. [section] 271(c)(2)(B) (2006).
(184.) The relevant documents are found on the FCC's website at Triennial Review Remand Resources, http://www.fcc.gov/wcb/cpd/triennial_review/ triennialremand.html (last visited Apr. 10, 2010).
(185.) 47 U.S.C. [section] 251(d)(2) (2006).
(186.) Implementation of the Local Competition Provisions in the Telecommunications Act of 1996, First Report and Order, F.C.C.R. 15499, paras. 307-16 (1996).
(187.) See, e.g., Goldwasser v. Ameritech Corp., 222 F.3d 390, 402 (7th Cir. 2000).
[T]he process established in [section] 252 of the 1996 Act for review of negotiated [wholesale] agreements, both for substance and for implementation, provides an extra safeguard.... Furthermore, the record thus far is one of active use of these review procedures; there would be no basis at all to find that they are illusory.
(188.) See the FCC's semiannual Local Competition reports. Local Telephone Competition and Broadband Deployment, http://www.fcc.gov/wcb/ iatd/comp.html (last visited Apr. 10, 2010). The reported share of entrant lines accounted for by unbundled incumbent subscriber loops varies slightly depending on the source of the data used by the FCC. See, in particular, Tables 3 and 4 of recent Local Competition reports. The December 2004 data are available at Triennial Review Remand Resources, http://www.fcc.gov/wcb/cpd/triennial_review/triennialremand.html (last visited Apr. 10, 2010).
(189.) For a discussion of the causes of the CLECs' demise, see generally Larry F. Darby, Jeffrey A. Eisenach & Joseph S. Kraemer, The CLEC Experiment: Anatomy of a Meltdown, PROGRESS ON POINT 9.23, PROGRESS ON POINT (Sept. 2002).
(191.) See, e.g., T. Randolph Beard, George S. Ford & Lawrence J. Spiwak, Why ADCO? Why Now? An Economic Exploration into the Future of Industry Structure for the "Last Mile' in Local Telecommunications Markets, 54 FED. COMM. L.J. 421 (2002).
(192.) The high watermark came in Pennsylvania in 2000-01, where the Pennsylvania PUC tentatively ordered structural separation by Verizon before concluding the benefits would be de minimis. See Pa. Pub. Util. Comm'n., Structural Separation of Bell Atlantic-Pennsylvania, Inc., Retail and Wholesale Operations, Opinion and Order, Docket. No. M00001353, 33 (2001).
[A]nything less than full structural separation ... would require continuing regulatory oversight, even though part of our goal in deregulating the industry is to reduce oversight. However, ... even with the implementation of structural separation of Verizon's wholesale and retail arms, no less regulatory oversight than that currently prevailing will be required to ensure compliance.
Id. For more on the U.S. debate over structural separation, see, e.g., Robert W. Crandall & J. Gregory Sidak, Is Structural Separation of Incumbent Local Exchange Carriers Necessary for Competition?, 19 YALE J. ON REG. 335 (2002); Jeffrey A. Eisenach, Randolph J. May & Charles A. Eldering, Regulatory Overkill: Pennsylvania's Proposal to Breakup Bell Atlantic, PROGRESS ON POINT (Dec. 1999).
(193.) In this regard, we find Ammori's suggestion that structural separation be required even in the absence of mandatory nnbundling to be nonsensical, since the only plausible rationale for creating two companies is to ensure that the "monopoly" network provider sells its services on a wholesale basis to multiple retailers on a nondiscriminatory basis, i.e., that it unbundles. See supra note 127.
(194.) See INDUS. ANALYSIS & TECH. DIV., WIRELINE COMPETITION BUREAU, FCC, HIGH-SPEED SERVICES FOR INTERNET ACCESS: STATUS AS OF DECEMBER 31, 2007, at chart 4 (2009) (basing statistics on "advanced services lines," i.e., those providing more than 200-Kbps service in both directions). See Data Compilation, supra note 110.
(196.) See id. Sweden's apparently robust platform competition comes from FTTH, which has been provided by municipal governments at very high costs. See Mikael Sandberg & Richard Jones, FTTH in Sweden: An Entrepreneurial Perspective, BROADBAND PROPERTIES, Jan. 2010, available at http://www.bbpmag.com/2010mags/jan10/ BBP_Jan10_FTTHSweden.pdf. It is curious that the Swedish national regulator should take such a dim view of the strength of this platform competition that it feels compelled to pursue functional separation of TeliaSonera, the incumbent.
(197.) Verizon Communications, 2009 Annual Report, 14.
(198.) See, e.g., Comcast, Annual Report to the Securities and Exchange Commission, Form 10-K, 31 (2009).
(199.) Implementation of Sec. 6002(b) of the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993, Thirteenth Report, 24 F.C.C.R. 6185, at 6193 (2009).
(200.) Glenn Fleishman, Verizon Ups Ante on LTE Deployment: 2009, ARS TECHNICA, Dec. 10, 2008, available at http://arstechnica.com/old/content/ 2008/12/verizon-says-early-lte-deployment-in-2009.ars.
(201.) AT&T Boosts 3G Data Speeds--Outlines LTE Upgrade Path, CELLULAR-NEWS, May 27, 2009, available at http://www.cellular-news.com/story/37690.php.
(202.) Posting of Larry Dignan to Between the Lines, http://blogs.zdnet.com/ BTL/?p=13058 (Feb. 18, 2009, 3:49 AM).
(203.) Clearwire Corporation, Annual Report to the Securities and Exchange Commission, Form 10-K, 8 (2009).
(204.) See NIELSEN MOBILE, CRITICAL MASS: THE WORLDWIDE STATE OF THE MOBILE WEB (2008), available at http://www.nielsenmobile.com/ documents/CriticalMass.pdf.
(205.) Viviane Reding, Member of the Eur. Comm'n Responsible for Info., Soc'y & Media, Speech to the Second Bus. Roundtable with the Eur. Comm'n: Why Europe Needs Even More Efficient Telecommunications Markets in Order to be Competitive 2 (Jan. 29, 2008).
(206.) See, e.g., ERG Opinion/Common Position on Regulatory Principles of NGA, ERG (2007)16rev2 (2007).
(207.) Taylor Reynolds, Fiber Investment Challenges and Opportunities, PowerPoint Presentation to OECD 28 (June 6, 2008).
(208.) See infra note 212.
(209.) See id.
(210.) See IDATE 2010, supra note 153.
(211.) See, e.g., ERG (2007)16rev2, supra note 206, at Sec. VI (concluding that next generation network "investments are likely to reinforce the importance of scale and scope economies, thereby reducing the degree of replicability, potentially leading to an enduring economic bottleneck.").
(212.) Reynolds, supra note 207.
(213.) As between PON and P2P architectures for deploying FTTP, PON has significant economic advantages, and is far and away the most widely deployed. See, e.g., Paul Whittlesey, "PON, P2P, or Active Ethernet?" (Apr. 2007) (on file with the author); see also Press Release, Inventory of FTTH in Europe, supra note 155, at 28 (showing P2P deployments account for only 14 percent of worldwide deployments and stating "Ethernet P2P [during 2009] deployments remained marginal.").
(214.) Hybrid-fiber-coax networks utilize a fundamentally different architecture from either DSL or FTTH/FTTC. While bit-stream access is technically feasible, unbundling (i.e., making available a last-mile "dumb pipe" connection) is not. See, e.g., Inquiry Concerning High-Speed Access to the Internet Over Cable and Other Facilities, Declaratory Order and Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 17 F.C.C.R. 4798, paras. 12-19 (2002); WALTER CICIORA ET AL., MODERN CABLE TELEVISION TECHNOLOGY: VIDEO, VOICE, AND DATA COMMUNICATIONS 5-6 (2d ed. 2004); Emy Tseng & Sharon Eisner Gillett, Open Access to Cable Data Networks, available at http://dspace.mit.edu/ bitstream/handle/1721.1/1520/Tseng-Gillett.pdf?sequence=1. While cable network unbundling is under consideration in some jurisdictions, including Canada and the Netherlands, it would consist of allowing ISPs to offer services over cable, not forced leasing of last-mile physical connections. See Can. Radio-television and Telecomm. Comm'n, Proceeding to Consider the Appropriateness of Mandating Certain Wholesale High-Speed Access Services, Telecom Notice of Consultation, CRTC 2009-261-3 (2009), available at http://www.crtc.gc.ca/PartVII/eng/2009/8661/c122_200904286.htm; Emeka Obiodu, Dutch Parliament Approves Cable Network Unbundling Bill, CED MAGAZINE, Oct. 25, 2006, available at www.cedmagazine.com/dutch-parliament-approves_cable.aspx.
Robert W. Crandall *
Jeffrey A. Eisenach **
Robert E. Litan ***
* Robert W. Crandall is a Senior Fellow in Economic Studies at the Brookings Institution and an Expert Affiliate at Navigant Economies LLC.
** Jeffrey A. Eisenach is a Managing Director at Navigant Economies LLC and an Adjunct Professor at George Mason University Law School.
*** Robert E. Litan is a Senior Fellow in Economic Studies at the Brookings Institution, Vice President for Research and Policy at the Kauffman Foundation, and an Expert Affiliate at Navigant Economics LLC. The views here are the Authors' own. They are grateful to Kevin Caves and Andrew Card for research assistance and to Verizon Communications for financial support. Any errors are their own.
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|Author:||Crandall, Robert W.; Eisenach, Jeffrey A.; Litan, Robert E.|
|Publication:||Federal Communications Law Journal|
|Date:||Jun 1, 2010|
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