New network structures: decentralization, prosumers and the role of online platforms

This issue of the Network Industries Quarterly looks into the major challenges infrastructure regulation is currently facing as a result of technology, indirect network effects, newly emerging network structures, and new actors. The rapidly evolving Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) have significantly challenged the traditionally stable landscape of infrastructure services provision. The new data layer over the traditional infrastructure and service layers is transforming network industries: online platforms create new indirect network effects, they allow new service providers to enter the market , and they challenge the central role of traditional infrastructure managers/service providers as entities ensuring the coordination of the sectors. 

The de- and re-regulation of the different network industries is an on- going process at both the national and global levels. As this process unfolds, ever new phenomena emerge, necessitating a constant reassessment of the content and objectives of regulation. 

Following the 7th Conference on Regulation of Infrastructures which took place on June 21 and 22, 2018 with a particular focus on the regulatory challenges facing network industries in the transport, telecoms, water and energy sectors, four papers were selected for this publication due to their topical relevance. 

Frieden examines how Internet ventures operate as intermediaries serving both upstream sources of content and applications, as well as downstream consumers, and considers how governments can respond to the onset of price and quality of service discrimination within the Internet ecosystem. 

Knieps looks at ICT innovations as the key drivers for a paradigm shift from traditional intramodal transportation markets to intermodal shared mobility markets. He identifies the changing necessities of regulations regarding market entry, public subsidies, and technical regulations, and presents the potentials of pilot projects, as well as the impact of shared mobility on congestion and pollution. 

Rossotto et al. analyse the existing literature on digital platforms and distinguish four aspects, which policy makers should keep in mind, working on appropriate policy frameworks for digital platforms in emerging markets. These four aspects are: definition of multisided- platforms; emerging business models; technology and behavioral enablers; platform competitive dynamics. 

Finally, Vanrykel, Ernst and Bourgeois look at the platform Share&Charge, and present its functioning and potential, before assessing the tax treatment of operations involved in the use of the platform.

Separate articles can be downloaded from the links below:

Digital Platforms: A Policy Framework for Developing Countries

Carlo, Maria Rossotto, Prasanna, Lal Das , Elena Gasol Ramos, Eva Clemente Miranda, Mona Farid Badran, Martha Martinez Licetti, Graciela Miralles Murciego

Regulatory Challenges for Share&Charge Models

Fanny Vanrykel, Damien Ernst, Marc Bourgeois