Merger Control in the Telecom Industry: A Landscape Transformed

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Purpose: This paper aims to underscore how the digitization of content and the convergence in the telecommunications sector has prompted a wave of consolidation between telecom and content players. Design/methodology/approach: Using interdisciplinary insights from competition policy and business strategy, the paper draws attention to the interplay between business model innovation and merger control in the converged telecoms sector. Findings: Technological innovation and business model innovation led to the emergence of over-the-top (OTT) services. This innovation in turn led to two key effects, first, successful commercialization of content and the emergence of the “smart pipes” that in turn has led to the second effect, which is increased mergers and acquisitions (M&As) in the converged telecommunications sector. Emergence of OTT with big data as a key advantage challenged the strategy and business models of the more established players, such as the AT&T, Time Warner, Liberty Global and Fox, which in turn led to the current trend of M&As in the sector. Originality/value: This paper makes the following key contributions to the literature on M&As between the fixed/mobile and content players. First, it elucidates how the existing market players can benefit from competition policy, such as merger remedies to enter new and related markets. Second, it advocates that the US and the European competition authorities while assessing these M&As, take due account of innovation in business models, as business model innovation not only promotes innovation in the market but also enhances consumer welfare, considering that it offers the merged firm economies of scale and scope to offer better-quality goods and services at subsidized prices.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-9
JournalJournal of Business Strategy
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 7 Oct 2020
Externally publishedYes

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