The Federal Trade Commission today announced the tenth session of its Hearings Initiative. The session, focused on competition and consumer protection issues in broadband markets, will take place on January 16, 2019, at the FTC’s Constitution Center Auditorium.
The hearing will examine developments in U.S. broadband markets, technology, and law since the FTC staff’s 2007 Broadband Connectivity Competition Policy report and the FTC staff’s 1996 Competition Policy in the New High-Tech, Global Marketplace report. Participants in the hearing will discuss: (i) the evolution of broadband networking and broadband markets since the 2007 Broadband Report; (ii) the identification and evaluation of advertising claims by internet service providers with respect to the delivery speed of content; and (iii) the identification and evaluation of conduct by broadband market participants that may be exclusionary or anticompetitive. The Commission will release a detailed agenda in January 2019.
The Commission invites public comment on these issues, including the questions listed below. Comments can be submitted online no later than 11:59 pm EDT, March 15, 2019.
- The FTC’s 2007 Broadband Report provided a technical background of broadband market issues relevant at that time. How should the Commission evaluate broadband technology issues now? Which technological developments are important for understanding the competitiveness of the industry? How would future technological developments likely to occur in the near future impact the competitiveness of broadband markets, or otherwise affect consumer interests?
- How should the Commission define relevant markets in this industry? How should the Commission identify and measure market power of content providers, content delivery networks, internet transit providers, internet service providers, and other relevant market actors?
- How should the Commission identify and evaluate conduct in this industry that may be exclusionary or anticompetitive, including but not limited to discounting and preferential pricing, contracts and agreements between firms in vertical relationships, and conduct that may undermine or discriminate against rivals? Under what conditions does such conduct harm consumers? Under what conditions is conduct that may exclude or discriminate against rivals also associated with short-run or long-run efficiencies or consumer benefits?
- Do existing local, state or federal regulations affect different market participants in ways that limit competition and innovation?
- What are the existing standards, if any, regarding how actual internet speeds correspond to advertised internet speeds? Are such standards relevant to an FTC analysis under Section 5?
- What tools, platforms, and research are used to measure the speed of broadband and related services? Are they adequate for the FTC’s analysis of speed claims? If not, what additional resources are needed? Do competitors rely on data from these sources in challenging each other’s speed claims?
- How can consumers or other stakeholders determine whether actual internet speeds match advertised speeds?
- Do existing methods of advertising internet speed adequately inform consumers about their choices for broadband and telecommunications services?
Additional sessions of the FTC’s Hearings Initiative will be held in the first quarter of 2019. One additional hearing has been announced:
February 12-13, 2018
FTC Constitution Center Auditorium
The FTC Hearings on Competition and Consumer Protection in the 21st Century will accommodate as many attendees as possible; however, admittance will be limited to seating availability. Reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities are available upon request. Request for accommodations should be submitted to Elizabeth Kraszewski via email at email@example.com or by phone at (202) 326-3087. Such requests should include a detailed description of the accommodation needed. Please allow at least five days advance notice for accommodation requests; last minute requests will be accepted but may not be possible to accommodate.
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