Deconstructing the “level playing field” argument – an application to online communications

In this paper for Facebook, Brian Williamson deconstructs the "level playing field” and “same service same rules” arguments in relation to online communications and rich interaction apps. The paper concludes that these arguments do not stand up to scrutiny - technology and market differences matter.

Legacy communications services enjoy competitive advantages due to vertical integration with network access, and regulation relates in part to problems related to numbering and vertical integration, for example, the so called call termination monopoly. A forward looking approach would be to roll back sector specific regulation where possible, rely more on general horizontal competition, consumer and data protection law and recognise that technology and market differences matter - regulation should be problem driven, focussed and proportionate.