US Lawmakers Call For Shake-up Of Big Tech ‘Monopolies’

A House of Representatives panel in a report Tuesday accused four Big Tech firms of acting as “monopolies,” calling for sweeping changes to antitrust laws and enforcement that could potentially lead to breakups of the giant firms.

But the report by the House Judiciary Committee failed to win the endorsement of Republican members, highlighting a partisan divide despite widespread criticism of the tech giants.

The 449-page document concluded that Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google “engage in a form of their own private quasi regulation that is unaccountable to anyone but themselves.”

“Companies that once were scrappy, underdog startups that challenged the status quo have become the kinds of monopolies we last saw in the era of oil barons and railroad tycoons,” the report said.

The report follows an investigation of more than 15 months and hearings this year with the top executives of the four firms, in parallel to antitrust probes being led by federal and state enforcers.

Judiciary Committee chairman Jerrold Nadler and antitrust subcommittee chairman David Cicilline said in a joint statement that the tech firms “each possess significant market power over large swaths of our economy” and have “exploited their power of the marketplace in anticompetitive ways.”

The report suggests moves which could lead to breakups of the big firms, calling for “structural separations” to prohibit companies from competing on platforms they operate.

Also recommended was a requirement that platforms allow “interoperability” with competitors and regulations aimed at preventing acquisitions that hurt competition.

Amazon pushed back in a blog post, arguing that “the presumption that success can only be the result of anti-competitive behavior is simply wrong.”

“Amazon accounts for less than 1% of the $25 trillion global retail market and less than 4% of retail in the US. Unlike industries that are winner-take-all, retail has ample

Japan’s Rakuten offers $30 5G plans in industry shakeup

By Sam Nussey



a sign on the side of a building: The logo of Rakuten is pictured at the headquarters of Rakuten in Tokyo


© Reuters/Sam Nussey
The logo of Rakuten is pictured at the headquarters of Rakuten in Tokyo

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan’s Rakuten Inc launched low price 5G services via its cloud-based mobile network on Wednesday in a challenge to rival carriers under fire for high prices that could shake up the telecoms industry globally.

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The start of the next-generation service follows the launch of Rakuten’s 4G services in April in a network based on cloud-based software and commoditized hardware that the e-commerce firm says has radically slashed entry costs.

Rakuten is offering 5G plans for the same price as its existing plan – 2,980 yen ($28) before tax per month. CEO Hiroshi Mikitani said that price point is around 70% lower than larger rivals which began 5G services earlier this year.

The launch comes as Japan’s new Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has renewed attacks on industry prices and a day after NTT launched a buyout of top wireless carrier NTT Docomo in a deal it said would facilitate lower prices.

If government pressure yields results, falling telecom prices at its peers could erode the appeal of Rakuten’s plan, which it hopes will bring customers to its other services.

Analysts also question whether the service can rival the heavy spending of cash-rich rivals and if consumers are willing to accept patchier coverage for low prices.

The network has backing from vendors across the industry in a shakeup of traditional supply chains.

Rakuten hopes the 5G network will act as a showcase for the technology, attracting other companies to build their own networks with a service dubbed the Rakuten Communications Platform.

(Reporting by Sam Nussey; Editing by Kim Coghill)

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