Communications

At the forefront of lightning-fast advances in the communications sector

Improvements in communications services have had a profound impact on users, society and the broader economy. Sparked by liberalisation and sustained by never-ending technological change, the industry continuously has to adapt to changing circumstances. Business models, regulatory approaches and government policies have to be constantly re-visited to ensure that they remain fit-for-purpose.

Imagining the future, and planning for it now

To deal with today’s challenges and anticipate tomorrow’s, we provide our clients with forward-looking advice underpinned by economic analysis, unparalleled experience and in-depth knowledge of the communications sector and media markets. We understand the broader context in which key decisions are made as we have extensive experience of working with a wide range of stakeholders, including telecoms providers, media companies, regulators, competition authorities, governments, trade associations and investors.

Regulation and policy

Regulators have to strike the right balance between protecting consumers in the short term, and ensuring that the industry delivers the full benefits of technology over the longer term. While new technology and the growth of competition has allowed regulators to withdraw from many parts of the market, government and regulatory policy still underpins competition in some areas. But authorities are having to consider:

  • How can government policy foster a dynamic and competitive market delivering world class services to consumers?
  • How will the advent of new technologies, such as 5G and fibre broadband, affect market structure and the need for regulation?
  • When can regulators fully withdraw from markets with the assurance that competition alone can deliver the best outcomes?
  • Do vulnerable customers still need to be protected in competitive markets?

Our recent work includes:

  • Reviewing different policy market models to determine the optimal way to incentivise investment in new technologies
  • Conducting market analysis to identify where regulation can be rolled back
  • Advising on the design and implementation of structural and behavioural remedies

Read more about our regulation work

Competition policy

Since liberalisation, sector-specific regulation has gradually been withdrawn in many telecoms markets. Alongside this, digitisation has increased competition across the communications sector. But there have been waves of consolidation, with companies keen to strengthen their positions in existing markets, and expand into new ones. Given the strength of network effects and economies of scale, the sector remains subject to a wide range of competition cases. And there is increasing focus on some of the business practices of the large internet players, and whether they hinder or support consumer choice.

Our recent work includes:

  • Advising on some of the most high-profile mergers, acquisitions and joint ventures in the communications sector
  • Abuse of dominance cases (margin squeeze, refusal to supply, tying and bundling, exclusivity agreements)
  • Vertical and horizontal agreements

 Read more about our competition work

Dispute Resolution

When disputes arise - be it arbitration, damages or appealing key regulatory decisions - economic evidence can be fundamental to getting the best result.

Our detailed understanding of market structure, financial modelling and our thorough grasp of the economic principles helps us to support litigants with expert written and oral witness that’s effective and robust.

Our recent work includes:

  • Calculating damages arising from competition cases, contractual breaches and regulatory infringements
  • Advising in arbitration cases over the pricing of services
  • Providing expert reports and testimony in appeals of regulatory decisions
  • Advising in a dispute on carriage fees between a content distributor and a content aggregator 

Read more on our dispute support work

The value of spectrum

Spectrum is a valuable resource. But spectrum is finite. One person’s use can interfere with another’s. Therefore, spectrum needs to be assigned in a way that maximises its efficient use while satisfying broader government policy objectives.

Exponential growth in data usage and the growth of new use cases supported by 5G technology means that more and more spectrum will need to be assigned to the communications sector.

Our recent work includes:

  • Demonstrating how the risk of ‘strategic’ bidding could undermine the regulator’s objectives in an auction
  • Showing how ongoing licence fees for spectrum should be set to maximise efficiency
  • Assessing the costs and benefits of transferring spectrum to mobile uses
Commercial strategy and investment decisions

Telecoms and media organisations need to find new ways to connect with customers and handle an ever more complex value chain. In a world of rapid technological change, business models are constantly evolving and operators need to make critical investment decisions.

We leverage our deep insight into the commercial and regulatory environment in the communications and media sectors to help our clients stay ahead of their competitors, strengthen their position within the broader value chain and ultimately satisfy ever-evolving consumer demands.

Our recent work includes:

  • Determining where an operator should deploy next generation technology and where instead to rely on evolutions of existing technology
  • Advising on the attractiveness of entering an adjacent product market relying on economics of scope brought about by a new technology
  • Re-negotiating a joint venture deal for a virtual mobile operator
  • Assessing the costs and benefits of a policy of “net neutrality”
  • Determining the value to end users of exclusive sports rights bundled with broadband services
Reshaping the content value chain

Technology and the internet had a profound effect on the media sector, creating new opportunities for distributing content but also undermining existing business models. Economics can help stakeholders understand how the sector is likely to evolve, allowing governments to design forward looking media policies and allowing content owners and distributors to understand how best to build value in a fast changing market.
Our recent work includes:

  • Advising in a dispute on carriage fees between a content distributor and a content aggregator
  • Assessing the costs and benefits of a policy of “net neutrality”
  • Determining the value to end users of exclusive sports rights bundled with broadband services