Tuesday, April 10, 2007
Posted by D. Daniel Sokol
Trinko is one of the most important antitrust decisions of recent years. Daniel Spulber of Northwestern University's Kellog School of Management and Christopher Yoo of Vanderbilt Law School examine Trinko and apply its meaning to the current debate on net neutrality issues in their working paper entitled Mandating Access to Telecom and the Internet: The Hidden Side of Trinko.
Abstract: Antitrust has long played a major role in telecommunications policy, demonstrated most dramatically by the equal access mandate imposed during the breakup of AT&T. In this Article we explore the extent to which antitrust can continue to serve as a source of access mandates following the Supreme Court's 2004 Trinko decision. Although Trinko sharply criticized access remedies and antitrust courts' ability to enforce them, it is not yet clear whether future courts will interpret the opinion as barring all antitrust access claims. Even more importantly, the opinion contains language hinting at possible bases for differentiating among different types of access, in contrast to previous analyses, which have generally grouped all of the forms of access into a single category. We build upon this language to offer an analytical framework, based on a branch of mathematics known as graph theory, that captures the manner in which different components of network can interact with one another as part of a complex system. Our analysis also offers a basis for classifying the different types of access into five categories: retail, wholesale, interconnection, platform, and unbundled. We then employ this framework to analyze a range of policy and doctrinal issues, including the current debate over network neutrality.