NERA Experts Discuss the Competition Implications of the Transition to 5G

24 March 2021
Dr. Will Taylor and Adrien Cervera-Jackson

With 5G promising a step change to increase performance and functionality compared to its predecessor 4G, it is no wonder why it has been acclaimed as the next generation of mobile technology and is expected to give rise to a variety of new use cases.  

However, 5G comes with a number of potential antitrust implications. 5G requires a significant investment from mobile network operators (MNOs) and, as of now, the business case for 5G’s investment is unclear. This has left competition implications as to when a return on investments will arrive, when 5G will provide new revenue streams, and the pressure it will put on current MNO business models.

NERA Associate Directors Dr. Will Taylor and Adrien Cervera-Jackson address this in their recent article published in the International Bar Association’s Competition Law International. The authors consider a number of competition issues that might arise through the transition from 4G to 5G, both in general and in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. They also:

  • Explain the basics of mobile network economics and the properties of different spectrum bands, and then describe the difference in performance between 5G and 4G;
  • Discuss the challenges involved when MNO business models are associated with 5G investments;
  • Cover the rationale for MNOs to merge or collaborate to achieve investment efficiencies, set out the trade-off between the potential efficiency gains and anti-competitive effects associated with mergers and NSAs, and discuss recent cases in which these issues have been examined around the world; and
  • Elaborate on the implications for the investment of MNOs merging or collaborating and their effects on competition.

This article first appeared in the December 2020 issue of Competition Law International (Vol. 16, No. 2) and is reproduced by kind permission of the International Bar Association, London, UK. © International Bar Association.