The sector which has experienced the consequences of progressive technology and increasing competition the most, is the communication sector. Traditional postal and telephone services are rapidly being overtaken by e-mail, broadband and OTT (Over-The-Top) services such as Whatsapp. These developments force providers to review their business models. Telecommunication providers are moreover facing significant investments. Not all networks are designed to deal with the growing demand for broadband. The roll-out of fibre-optic networks (Fiber to the Home) has only just begun and large investments are also needed in mobile networks (4G and 5G). At the same time, revenues are falling short of expectations due to inter alia changes in regulation and calling and texting patterns. Partly as result of the increasing demand for Triply Play and Quadruple Play bundles, some providers are looking to collaborate with each other. The joint venture between Vodafone and Ziggo illustrates this. In doing so, they know they will surely attract the attention of the supervisory authorities. The merger of OPTA (Independent Post and Telecommunications Authority), NMa (Netherlands Competition Authority) and the Consumer Authority into the Authority for Consumers & Markets (ACM) has reinforced that attention. Having competition law, sector-specific regulation and consumer law enforcement instruments at its disposal, ACM has a broad arsenal of powers to resolve any possible market problem.
Digitisation, new technologies and the entry of foreign media groups have really shaken up the Dutch media landscape. This forces the more traditional, established media to take a closer look at their business model. In some cases, this results in more or less intensive cooperation with other media companies. In contrast, new entrants (foreign parties and digital media companies) mainly wish to invest in building up a market position. Content will play an important role in this commercial battle. No medium will remain relevant without appealing content. Traditional and new media will increasingly go head to head to obtain the rights, exclusive and otherwise, to content. Competition law plays an ever-increasing role in this regard.
New technologies are the important drivers behind changes in the communication and media sector. The rapid emergence of smartphones, tablets, etc. has a significant impact on supply and demand in both the communication and media sector. In view of the importance of new technologies and access to them, it is not surprising that supervisory authorities, such as the European Commission and the ACM, are particularly interested in high-tech companies like Samsung, Apple, Google and Microsoft. These investigations focus more and more on abuse of a dominant position but also on patent pools, standard-setting and e-distribution, among other areas. Access to new technology is also essential for the future of businesses in other sectors (from food to automotive). Furthermore, competition authorities are searching for a way how to deal with the developments in the area of big data. The new Digital Markets Act (DMA) should make it easier to regulate digital gatekeepers.
Investment in the development of technology requires adequate protection of know-how and IP rights. Competition law can make an exception to the exclusivity of these rights mandatory in some cases. Competition rules also play an important role in assessing the cooperation with other parties. There are specific rules and exemptions for the transfer and licensing of IP rights.