Edited by Anastassios Gentzoglanis and Anders Henten
Evolving Technologies, Competition and the New Role of Regulation: Introduction and Synopsis of the Book
Anastassios Gentzoglanis and Anders Henten Regulation of the telecommunications industry has traditionally focused on the supply side of the industry, chiefly the retail segment of the market. Since liberalization of the industry has begun, regulation has gradually shifted to the wholesale segment of the market. The regulatory agencies have intervened to regulate access and facilitate entry and, hopefully, investment in infrastructure. This asymmetric regulation has had mixed results. As an answer to that some regulatory agencies have abandoned wholesale regulation (the case of the USA) and some others have shifted from light-handed regulation to heavy-handed regulation with mandatory unbundling of the local loop (the case of Australia). Other regulatory agencies have moved to a more gradual type of wholesale deregulation on the grounds that competition in this segment of the market has not yet fully developed, but as it grows the need for regulation is reduced (the case of Europe and Canada). Paradoxically, as competition increases in the retail segment of the market, consumers are increasingly ‘impaired’ in their capacity to make decisions in their best interest. The array of services and suppliers that competition makes available increases consumer choice and with it the difficulties for them to make rational decisions with respect to services, quality and prices, and so on. If consumers are able to make rational decisions, competition among new service suppliers will increase. But if consumers are unable to make rational decisions because of too much choice or poor quality of information or misinformation, competition is dampened...