I have analyzed 4-3 mobile mergers and broadband competition for many years across the world. I have described the cases that the EU’s DG Competition has rejected and the cases that have been approved outside the EU. My research shows that competition authorities have limited understanding of the impact of technological development on competition in the telecommunications world.

Countries with high levels of wireless investment and innovation have consolidated markets. Consider the fact that US telecom operators have invested twice as much in infrastructure per capita than the average of operators in the European Union for at least a decade. A similar trend is observed in Japan and Canada, countries with consolidated markets and high levels of investment and innovation.  It is not surprising that the EU has lagged on 5G as European authorities have been reluctant in many countries to allow needed consolidation.

The same technological competition is driving the dynamics in the infrastructure market. Just as the mobile market has evolved from 2G in the 1990s to 5G today, the type and number of equipment providers has changed with technology.  Many equipment providers did not last the 2G and 3G generations. The consolidation of the infrastructure business from more than 20 providers two decades ago to 5 providers today has not increased prices. Today’s operators get more value for money than ever. This will continue whether it’s 5 or 3 providers.