FTC Announces Agenda for the Tenth Session of its Hearings on Competition and Consumer Protection in the 21st Century
March 20 Hearing will examine competition and consumer protection issues in broadband marketsbook
February 22, 2019
The Federal Trade Commission today announced the agenda for the tenth session of its Hearings Initiative. The session, focused on competition and consumer protection issues in broadband markets, will take place on March 20, 2019 at the Constitution Center Auditorium at 400 7th St., SW, Washington D.C. The hearing originally was scheduled for January 16, 2019, but was postponed due to the government shutdown.
The hearing will examine developments in U.S. broadband markets, technology, and law since the FTC staff's 2007Broadband 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.
As previously announced, the Commission invites public comment on these issues, including the questions listed below. The comment-filing deadline has been extended: comments should be submitted online by 11:59 pm EDT, May 31, 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 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?