Feeds

DoJ probes reviews US telecom powers

Anti-competitive practices?

Top three mobile application threats

The US Department of Justice (DoJ) has begun looking into whether US telecom giants are abusing their growing market powers.

According to a report published Monday by The Wall Street Journal, the inquiry is merely a preliminary review, falling short of a full-fledged investigation into anti-competitive practices.

The review comes on the heels of two other recent US government actions. Last month, the head of the US Federal Communications Commission instructed his troops to "open a proceeding to closely examine wireless handset exclusivity arrangements that have reportedly become more prevalent in recent years." The day after that inquiry was announced, a hearing was held by a US Senate committee, sparked by a letter from a quartet of US senators, to gather testimony on exclusivity deals.

Whether the new DoJ review is promoted to the status of an investigation or not, its mere existence indicates that Obama & Co. are more interested in keeping an eye on industry consolidation than were the previous occupants of the White House.

During the Bush administration, there was significant consolidation in the telecom industry. In 2005 alone, for example, Sprint acquired Nextel, Verizon gobbled up MCI, and SBC bought AT&T. That administration, however, initiated no major antitrust actions during its eight-year tenure.

But there's a new sheriff in town. The DoJ's antitrust chief, Christine Varney, made the Obama administration's intentions crystal clear in a May speech at the Center for American Progress. Citing "inadequate antitrust oversight" as a contributing factor to the global economic Meltdown, Varney said that "As antitrust enforcers, we cannot sit on the sidelines any longer."

According to the WSJ, the DoJ may be looking not only into exclusivity deals, but also whether telecoms are "unduly restricting the types of services other companies can offer on their networks," such as AT&T's allowing Major League Baseball to stream video over its service, but not Sling Media.

And so with pressure now coming from both the Executive and Congressional branches of the US government, it appears that the window of laissez-faire liberties may be slamming shut for the telecom industry.

At minimum, the days of unexamined mergers and acquisitions appear to be drawing to a close. And also in the government regulators' sights may very well be the atmosphere of freewheeling, unregulated - and possibly anti-competitive - business practices. ®

3 Big data security analytics techniques

More from The Register

next story
Putin tells Snowden: Russia conducts no US-style mass surveillance
Gov't is too broke for that, Russian prez says
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
Lavabit loses contempt of court appeal over protecting Snowden, customers
Judges rule complaints about government power are too little, too late
MtGox chief Karpelès refuses to come to US for g-men's grilling
Bitcoin baron says he needs another lawyer for FinCEN chat
Don't let no-hire pact suit witnesses call Steve Jobs a bullyboy, plead Apple and Google
'Irrelevant' character evidence should be excluded – lawyers
Edward Snowden on his Putin TV appearance: 'Why all the criticism?'
Denies Q&A cameo was meant to slam US, big-up Russia
EFF: Feds plan to put 52 MILLION FACES into recognition database
System would identify faces as part of biometrics collection
Record labels sue Pandora over vintage song royalties
Companies want payout on recordings made before 1972
Ex-Tony Blair adviser is new top boss at UK spy-hive GCHQ
Robert Hannigan to replace Sir Iain Lobban in the autumn
Judge halts spread of zombie Nortel patents to Texas in Google trial
Epic Rockstar patent war to be waged in California
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.