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Expert Opinion

Daniel Hanley: Google and Facebook Are Essential, Let’s Regulate Them That Way



The author of this Expert Opinion is Daniel Hanley, a policy analyst at the Open Markets Institute

Google and Facebook have extraordinary control over information and communications systems in the United States. These two corporations dominate internet search, social media, and digital advertising, and each one serves as the gateway to the internet for billions of people. Google and Facebook have even become the dominant sources for how most Americans obtain their news. Google and Facebook have maintained their dominant position in these markets for more than a decade.

These two corporations can – and do – arbitrarily exercise their unrivaled monopoly power to suppress competition and crush smaller, dependent rivals. They have deprived and locked out rivals’ access to their platforms and manipulated their platforms to favor their services at the expense of smaller and dependent competitors. Without access to data and their platforms more generally, dependent competitors can find themselves unable to compete effectively, create desirable applications for consumers, provide critical product features, or even catch the attention of potential customers.

But antitrust enforcers can stop this harmful concentration of power with laws already on the books, by declaring Facebook and Google essential facilities. The Federal Trade Commission or Department of Justice could litigate an antitrust case designating Facebook and Google as essential facilities, or the courts could do so in response to a lawsuit from private citizens.

The goal of regulating corporations as essential facilities is to ensure fair competition by decreasing the power of dominant firms over smaller firms. An essential facilities designation would mandate that rivals have equal access to the corporation’s facilities or ensure that dependent firms are charged equal prices for the corporation’s goods or services.

The role of the essential facilities doctrine in antitrust

The essential facilities doctrine is based on the principle that a dominant firm should not be allowed to deny rivals access to its infrastructure. When a dominant firm is deemed an essential facility, the firm loses the ability to decide which firms to do business with, because access to the dominant firm’s facilities are necessary for competition to exist in the first place.

Historically, the essential facilities doctrine has been applied by courts and other antitrust enforcers to critical aspects of infrastructure, such as railroads, trucking, electrical facilities, news syndicates, and telecommunications firms, including telephone and telegraph companies. By withholding access to a platform, such as communications wires or railroad tracks, dominant companies stymied competitors, entrenched their monopoly positions, and often extended their dominance to adjacent markets.

Federal and state legislators have also deployed a similar regulatory designation. Legislators have designated some industries, such as hospitals, pipelines, and electrical plants, as natural monopolies, and so these industries were managed as public utilities. Similar to an essential facilities designation, lawmakers decided that they had to classify certain firms and industries as public utilities because of the difficulty of supporting competition in the industry and because of the likelihood that a dominant corporation would crush smaller rivals or exclude dependents.

Similar to railroad tracks and telephone wires, the source of Google’s and Facebook’s dominance is that each controls critical gateways to the internet – internet search and social networking, respectively – and controls extensive, unparalleled, and nonreplicable data collection infrastructure that they have woven into every aspect of the internet, far beyond their own websites.

Facebook’s familiar Like button is embedded into more than 8 million websites, from which the corporation collects extensive data on users who visit pages with the Like button embedded into it and from users who click on it.

Google has embedded tracking code in 85 percent of websites and 94 percent of Android Play Store applications. Google’s information collection efforts are so extensive and frequent that the corporation can determine whether a user is running or walking.

Google and Facebook’s data repositories serve as a choke-point

Google’s and Facebook’s data repositories are so extensive they have become critical avenues for academic research, and they form the foundation for countless software applications and enhanced software features such as frictionless user sign-on. Google’s and Facebook’s data also provide these corporations with the ability to engage in highly targeted advertising campaigns to attract the attention of the right audiences to use or purchase an advertised product or service. Access to Google’s and Facebook’s data infrastructure is necessary for any internet upstart to become a viable company in the technology sector.

Google and Facebook exploit their duopoly control over critical information and communications systems, using anti-competitive practices against current and potential rivals. Google and Facebook have routinely denied access to their essential data troves and platforms, for example. In 2013, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg personally approved revoking the video application Vine’s access to Facebook’s Friends List. This cut off Vine’s access to the dominant social network, which it needed to reach potential users to become a viable competitor.

This was not the first time that Facebook abused its power. Internal Facebook documents reveal that the corporation has routinely used access to its data as a bargaining chip to leverage its dominance over potential rivals to win favorable partnerships. A recently filed class action alleges similar conduct, as the lawyer representing the plaintiffs against Facebook says that “Facebook deliberately leveraged its developer platform, an infrastructure of spyware and surveillance, and its economic power to destroy or acquire anyone that competed with them.”

Google’s anti-competitive strategy of demoting links of rival sites

Google engages in similarly anti-competitive practices. In an internal memo accidentally sent to The Wall Street Journal, FTC staff stated that Google “adopted a strategy of demoting or refusing to display” links to certain rival websites. The report concluded that Google’s conduct resulted in “real harm to consumers and to innovation.”

Google and Facebook have also repeatedly abused their dominant market positions to engage in self-dealingpromoting their own products over those of rivals. For example, a 2017 analysis by The Wall Street Journal found that 91 percent of 25,000 product searches on Google search featured Google products in the first advertisement slot. The study also found that 43 percent of the searches featured Google products in the top two advertisement slots. An analysis conduct by The Markup on Tuesday showed that 41 percent of the search results on Google search were for Google’s own services.

This ability to manipulate its dominant platforms ultimately gives Google’s services an unbeatable comparative advantage, suppresses competition, and snuffs out the innovations of alternative services. In short, Google and Facebook can leverage their platforms to pick the winners and losers in the marketplace – and they pick themselves whenever possible. Consumers are deprived of alternative services that have better features, and we are all deprived of the innovations that fair and robust competition would provide.

The COVID-19 pandemic is only heightening users’ dependence on Google and Facebook

In sum, Facebook’s and Google’s services are as critical to both work and leisure as public utilities and the telephone were in the 20th century for energy and communications. The COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated users’ dependence on these services. Facebook’s user base has increased by more than 11 percent since last year, and the number of monthly active users have increased by 10 percent.

The number of users of Google Classroom doubled to 100 million in March alone. Google’s videoconferencing service has experienced a 30-fold increase since January. News organizations have flocked to YouTube to broadcast their content, evidenced by a 75% increase in the number of users watching news sources from certain outlets.

Our increased reliance on these platforms only increases the need for essential facilities regulation. This designation would promote additional accountability and scrutiny over Google’s and Facebook’s conduct to ensure that their policies are equitable and fair for all users, so that rival platforms could not be arbitrarily blocked by Google and Facebook. Such accountability may also help lawmakers understand the effects of Google’s and Facebook’s conduct and promote additional regulatory actions, such as limiting their invasions of privacy for their panopticons of data collection and ad targeting.

The testimony during the House of Representatives’ investigation into online platforms on Wednesday revealed the depth of lawmakers’ concern with the economy-wide repercussions resulting from any decision made by Google and Facebook without public oversight. An essential facilities designation from enforcers would resolve most of their concerns.

The FTC has applied an essential facilities-like designation on corporations with far less power than Facebook and Google. In January, a federal judge refused to dismiss a case by the FTC against Surescripts, the dominant provider of a “must-have” e-prescribing software used by medical professionals and pharmacies, for denying rivals’ access to their essential platform by using exclusionary contracts. In deeming Surescripts as “must-have,” the FTC argued that it is an essential service for both prescribers and pharmacies.

Also, in February, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the use of a closely related legal doctrine against Comcast for leveraging its dominant position to exclude Viamedia from access to for cable-television advertising services. Comcast’s actions caused Viamedia’s customers to abandon Viamedia as a supplier of advertising. Viamedia’s situation is similar to how Facebook and Google shut off access to their platforms and data, preventing rivals from becoming viable competitors in the industry.

Google and Facebook are facing at least five antitrust investigations, including a review of Google’s and Facebook’s business operations by the House of Representatives. These investigations should provide rich evidence to support later antitrust litigants such as private parties, federal agencies, and state attorneys general to impose essential facilities requirements on Google and Facebook.

This designation would invigorate competition in the sectors dominated by Google and Facebook, and it would restrain them from abusing their dominant market power to stifle competition and harm rivals.

Daniel A. Hanley is a policy analyst at the Open Markets Institute. You can follow him on Twitter @danielahanleyThis piece is exclusive to Broadband Breakfast. accepts commentary from informed observers of the broadband scene. Please send pieces to The views reflected in Expert Opinion pieces do not necessarily reflect the views of Broadband Breakfast and Breakfast Media LLC. 

Expert Opinion

Leo Matysine: The Impact of C-Band on Advancements in Mobile and Fixed Broadband

As technology is more advanced and connected to everything, the need for higher capacity networks will continue to grow exponentially.



The Author of this Expert Opinion is Leo Matysine, Co-Founder of MatSing

When consumers think of 5G, often their minds automatically think mobile connectivity. The official C-Band launch this past January brought the idea of increased spectrum connectivity into the limelight. While this had been something anticipated by the telecommunications industry for years, finally seeing it come to fruition allowed the mainstream media to become invested in the benefits this 5G spectrum could offer.

When 5G was first introduced five years ago, it caught the attention of many who soon learned the challenge in speedy implementation due to strict infrastructure requirements. The introduction of C-Band provides a solution, enabling 5G upgrades while simultaneously addressing the coverage and capacity needs.

This heightened implementation will allow users to start seeing improvements across the board, but not just in the form of mobile connection. Outside of the benefits for mobile carriers, the advancements C-Band provides will enter in a new era for fixed broadband access especially in rural communities.

The need for fixed broadband was magnified during the pandemic as users need for internet access from home drastically increased. This exposed the digital divide rural communities are facing, causing it to gain traction with the White House. As a result, a new infrastructure bill aimed at improving the underlying network infrastructures was developed as fiber-to-the-home and fiber-to-the-premise in rural settings have proven to be too expensive and impractical for wide implementation.

C-Band provides an alternative option allowing for wireless fixed broadband access through antennas. The mid-band frequency spectrum (1GHz to 6GHz) can provide rural users, both businesses and households, with options in providers and services they’ve been unable to experience previously.

C-Band also allows for higher speed and capacity

On top of the fixed broadband perspective where C-Band frequency spectrums are enabling rural connectivity, it allows for higher speed and capacity. The spectrums being utilized in the past while generating mobile coverage, had disadvantages in capacity and experience.

The mmWave spectrum (24GHz +) can transmit data at hyper speeds but only from limited distances, requiring line-of-site installations, whereas sub-1GHz offers the opposite. The mid-band spectrum C-Band falls under acts as a perfect balance, transmitting data at high speeds and capacities while providing the coverage needed to cover vast areas. Deployed with lens antenna technology, the additional capacity can be enabled with fewer antenna locations as compared to other antenna types, leading to financial advantages.

From a more localized vantage point, C-Band is now being integrated into marquee venues and stadiums. Within these smaller spaces, improved bandwidth and superior performance is essential given the concentrated number of users seeking connection and the inherent need for more content sharing. In order to support the mobile experience fans now expect from these venues, carriers and venue owners have turned to C-Band deployments.

Deployed atop the 4G/LTE foundation, the C-Band antenna builds off this functionality while adding the increased speed and capacity accustomed to the mid-band spectrum. Several venues will see increased results with these implementations allowing fans to experience a more reliable and overall better experience at their game days or concerts in the upcoming months.

Looking ahead, these milestones only mark the beginning of where C-Band implementation will take the telecommunications industry. As technology continues to become more advanced and connected to everyone and everything, the need for higher capacity networks will continue to grow exponentially.

Leo Matysine is the Co-Founder and Executive Vice President of company MatSing, the worlds leading manufacturer of large size, light weight RF lenses. MatSing introduces a new age of antenna design for the Telecommunications industry. This piece is exclusive to Broadband Breakfast.

Broadband Breakfast accepts commentary from informed observers of the broadband scene. Please send pieces to The views expressed in Expert Opinion pieces do not necessarily reflect the views of Broadband Breakfast and Breakfast Media LLC.

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Expert Opinion

Patrice Williams: Reimagining the Future of Work With Digital Plus Human Efforts

‘Digital workers can help in the end-to-end automation of business processes by mimicking human behavior.’



The Author of this Expert Opinion is Patrice Williams, Business Development Representative at Vuram.

Organizations across geographies are fast-embracing the hybrid and remote working models as they are embracing their digital transformation journeys to navigate the new normal. Adopting a digital workforce is essential to overcome a series of challenges, while it cannot replace humans. The future of work will witness humans operating side-by-side with software robots to pursue business goals and tackle future challenges.

The inclusion of a digital workforce allows organizations to function seamlessly around the clock while addressing labor shortages, learning gaps, upskilling requirements, workforce flexibility, effective crisis management, and profitability.

Who are digital workers?

The digital workforce is a variety of robotic and automated solutions that work in tandem with humans to accomplish tasks that are complex, time-consuming, repetitive, and mundane. They perform complex tasks end to end so that humans can focus on creative, critical, and high-value-added activities. The digital workforce comprises technologies like robotic process automation, cognitive computing, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and more.

Adopting digital workforce

Globally, when businesses started operating remotely, adopting digital workforce technologies helped organizations to continue operations uninterrupted by functioning seamlessly round the clock and achieving speed and efficiency.

Aided by hyperautomation technologies, the digital workers can help in the end-to-end automation of business processes by mimicking human behavior to perform actions that were previously, typically done only by humans. Following are some of the use cases:

Chatbots are increasingly being used across industries, including healthcare and banking. They can streamline customer support by handling volumes of simple customer queries around the clock, bringing down the costs, and adding efficiency. Interestingly, chatbots are predicted to save $8 billion by 2022 and save 2.5 billion hours by 2023, according to a study by Juniper Research.

Chatbots add efficiency to the new normal set up when people are working in different locations and are reimagining roles focusing on quality and cognitive skills. When integrated with the IT helpdesk, the bots can empower employees to resolve simple issues on their own, thus removing the burden on human employees.

With AI and natural language processing capabilities, these bots can understand the simple language of the users and help them with the right answers. They can help a new joiner complete the onboarding formalities, like filling out forms and helping them with instant answers to common questions about company policies, roles, responsibilities, etc.

The process of onboarding customers is different across industries, be it retail, corporate, banking, or healthcare. Irrespective of the industry, it is one of the most important and complex tasks with compliance checks, stringent regulations, documentation, security, and much more.

For instance, let’s take the bank. It involves several key steps like evaluating the customer’s profiles, recording customer data, performing background checks, fulfilling legal obligations, opening the account, interacting with the customer for any support, and finally, the account becomes operational.

AI can transform business experiences in a post-COVID world

In a post-COVID world where social distancing and other hygienic protocols are at the forefront, AI can transform the banking experience for customers. Digital onboarding can reduce time and costs while addressing the prominent challenges and ensuring compliance. In a digital environment, form fillings can be done automatically with OCR, conversational AI and a virtual assistant can support customers at any time and machine learning can be used to verify customer data across all the documents.

Fighting fraud by detection across stages is a critical part of financial institutions that handle volumes of unstructured data. Manual efforts in identifying, analyzing data, user profiling involves more effort, time, and prone to errors. RPA bot infused with AI and machine learning capabilities can curb financial frauds by monitoring every activity in the process loop and immediately notifying any concerns.

For example, credit scoring can be monitored effectively in the insurance claims process with the bots reviewing customer claims, matching them with the existing data, and monitoring the customer behavior to raise any abnormal behavior patterns. When trained, the bot can prevent money laundering by raising alerts of potentially fraudulent transactions.

Intelligent document processing helps organizations that process or handles several types of documents daily to reap the benefits of intelligent document processing. The process automatically reads, extracts, and analyzes from structured and unstructured data like online forms, resumes, email messages, invoices, text files, audio files, video files, and a lot more.

Functions like opening emails, downloading and reading attachments, filling forms, copying/pasting documents, extracting data from social media channels or other forums, reading/writing databases, and collecting and recording data, can be carried out with the help of intelligent document processing. Organizations can effortlessly search, extract, and analyze data for decision-making.

As the future of work is exploring ways to support the human workforce to perform at their highest potential while creating a happy working environment, the digital workforce can benefit the process in numerous ways.

Contrary to the popular myth that robots will replace human roles, the technologies will complement human efforts by adding quality, efficiency, and job satisfaction to perform better in the new digital workplace. Further, technology will enable businesses to overcome human limitations to maximize human potential nurturing a supportive working environment with more inclusive work culture.

Patrice Williams is the Business Development Representative at Vuram, a hyperautomation services company. Vuram has received several prominent recognitions, including the Inc 5000 list of fastest-growing private companies in the United States, HFS hot vendor in 2020, and Rising Star- Product Challenger in Australia by ISG in ISG Provider Lens 2021 report. Williams has more than 20 years of experience as an operational manager and working in a multinational working environment, and has led Vuram’s hiring activities and people management. This piece is exclusive to Broadband Breakfast.

Broadband Breakfast accepts commentary from informed observers of the broadband scene. Please send pieces to The views expressed in Expert Opinion pieces do not necessarily reflect the views of Broadband Breakfast and Breakfast Media LLC.

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Digital Inclusion

Samantha Schartman-Cycyk: Three Keys to Building Transformative Broadband Plans

‘While the federal government’s infrastructure funding creates unique opportunities, it also exposes challenges that states and tribes must get in front of to ensure that funding is sustainable and implementation is effective.’



The author of this Expert Opinion is Samantha Schartman-Cycyk, President of the Marconi Society

This week, I am thrilled to join state, local and tribal leaders from across the U.S. as we convene in Cleveland, Ohio, for the Broadband Access Summit. As a local and long-time advocate for digital inclusion, I am proud that the Pew Charitable Trusts and Next Century Cities selected Cleveland, one of the least connected cities in the country, as the site for a timely conversation about how we can effectively spend the unprecedented levels of federal funding for broadband infrastructure.

While the federal government’s infrastructure funding creates unique opportunities, it also exposes challenges that states and tribes must get in front of to ensure that funding is sustainable and implementation is effective.

The good news is that digital equity is finally front and center—where it belongs—and it has taken nearly twenty years of advocacy and practice to get us to this point.

Following are three key lessons I have learned to ensure efforts to expand connectivity are community oriented and sustainable.

1. Bring in local leadership—now

Across the country, areas that have a dedicated local leadership responsible solely for digital equity and inclusion are outpacing their counterparts. Someone, or ideally a team, needs to wake up every day thinking about what digital equity means in their community, how to make a reality in a way that supports key priorities, and where the true needs are. We have seen benefits in cities such as Detroit and Seattle, who have taken this approach.

We must support these leaders with accurate data. At the Marconi Society, a nonprofit that champions digital equity, I helped launch the National Broadband Mapping Coalition to help leaders from rural communities and urban ‘digital deserts’ identify broadband gaps. The NBMC has developed a no-cost mapping toolkit to help educate and guide communities.

2. Plan for sustainability while you have strong funding

We need to anchor digital inclusion efforts to long-term state programs to solidify funding and reinforce the intersectional impact of digital inclusion. Typically, digital inclusion programs blossom within the period of investment but falter when funding runs out, only to peak again when new grants or federal money become available.

This process wastes resources, relationships, and time, resulting in stop-and-start programs that aren’t able to address residents’ needs nor build momentum.

For example, a state like Maine with an older rural population is likely to prioritize services that allow for aging in place and telemedicine care for seniors. States like Utah or Texas, with relatively young populations, might place a higher priority on education and K–12 STEM pipelines. This alignment will allow state leaders to prioritize and bake sustainability into their broadband plans, create digital equity programs that support their priorities, and incorporate data collection into their work.

3. Create the workforce your state will need

In order to implement strong broadband plans that create true digital equity, state and local governments need a pipeline of people who understand the unique intersection of technology, policy, and grassroots digital inclusion work needed to bridge the digital divide. As of last year, nearly 20 states did not even have a dedicated broadband office to begin this work. With funding already being dispersed to states, we are at a critical moment.

To help create this workforce, the Marconi Society conceptualized and is developing the first-ever “Digital Inclusion Leadership” professional certificate with Arizona State University. The program will launch in Fall 2022 and will include top-ranked professors and leading industry experts as teachers and advisors.

I believe that this interdisciplinary workforce will continue to be in high demand as states integrate digital equity into their long-term priorities.

After years of helping to lay the groundwork for the current burst of funding and activity around digital equity, I can say that our work has only just begun. We have the gift of beginning with knowledge and funding that can be truly transformative. The digitally equitable future we are fighting for is closer than it has ever been before—let’s make sure we get this right.

Samantha Schartman-Cycyk is President of the Marconi Society, a nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing digitally equitable communities by empowering change agents across sectors. Over her 20-year career, she has built forward-thinking programs and tools to drive impact on digital inclusion at the local and national levels, through projects with the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), community training, and data collecting efforts. The Marconi Society celebrates and supports visionaries building tomorrow’s technologies upon the foundation of a connected world we helped create. This piece is exclusive to Broadband Breakfast.

Broadband Breakfast accepts commentary from informed observers of the broadband scene. Please send pieces to The views expressed in Expert Opinion pieces do not necessarily reflect the views of Broadband Breakfast and Breakfast Media LLC.

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