Reaction to Executive Order on Promoting Competition in the American Economy

“Our economy thrives on competition," said Federal Communications Commission Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel. "It is the reason the United States is home to some of the most dynamic companies in the world. I welcome this effort by the President to enhance competition in the American economy and in the nation’s communications sector.”

“Every American should have high-quality, affordable broadband. Today’s Executive Order spotlights the values that should drive our work toward that goal: affordability, fairness, competition, innovation, and consumer choice. The tens of millions of Americans without reliable internet access are counting on us—at the FCC and across the federal government—to fight for a more vibrant and inclusive broadband marketplace. I applaud President Biden’s sustained focus on these important issues," said FCC Commissioner Geoffrey Starks.

“While I welcome the Executive Order’s goal of addressing the concentration of corporate power in Silicon Valley, the Order’s FCC provisions represent a big gift to Big Tech," said FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr. "It embraces a backwards-looking, Obama-era approach to Internet regulation—one that would give the lobbyists at Google, Facebook, and Amazon the regulatory protections and price controls they’ve long sought while doing nothing to address Silicon Valley’s threats to free speech and an open Internet."

"I am also eager to be a part of the whole-of-government effort to increase competition, promote innovation, and speed economic growth. Meeting these goals is, and will continue to be, ‘job one’ at the Commission, and I pledge my full efforts to continue the tradition of crafting communications policies that serve the public interest," said FCC Commissioner Nathan Simington. "Net neutrality and the monopoly-era Title II law have long been inappropriately conflated. In other countries with net neutrality laws, net neutrality principles are specified in legislation, not imported from regulatory regimes for telephone monopolies. In light of recent jurisprudence, I believe that the President’s vision for net neutrality would be better accomplished by a bipartisan effort in Congress."

Federal Trade Commission Chair Lina Khan and Acting Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department Antitrust Division Richard A. Powers released a joint statement: “We must ensure that the merger guidelines reflect current economic realities and empirical learning and that they guide enforcers to review mergers with the skepticism the law demands. The current guidelines deserve a hard look to determine whether they are overly permissive. We plan soon to jointly launch a review of our merger guidelines with the goal of updating them to reflect a rigorous analytical approach consistent with applicable law.”

"This is the right agenda, and I know it will garner broad popular support. The headlines in the tech sections of news outlets will properly focus on net neutrality and antitrust enforcement. Yes, perhaps the most important issue addressed in the Executive Order is the need for the Federal Communications Commission to restore network neutrality policies by using its authority under Title II of the Communications Act. However, the President has also identified important but less visible issues that can have a huge impact on many people. I particularly like his emphasis on ending agreements that landlords enter that limit tenant access to a choice of internet providers and on the abusive use of early termination fees to restrict customers from switching providers to get a better deal," said Benton Institute for Broadband & Society Senior Counselor Andrew Jay Schwartzman.

Joshua Stager, deputy director for broadband and competition policy at New America’s Open Technology Institute said, “President Biden’s executive order is a big step forward for competition and consumer protection. The order is especially needed in the broadband market, which is dominated by an oligopoly of four companies—AT&T, Comcast, Verizon, and Charter—that have harmed consumers for years. The order includes many actions that OTI has long called for, including the restoration of net neutrality, making internet pricing more transparent with a broadband nutrition label, and ending ISP collusion with apartment landlords. We also urged the FTC and DOJ to strengthen their vertical merger guidelines after last year’s effort missed the mark. We’re happy to see progress on all these fronts and look forward to working with the Biden administration and relevant agencies to make today’s order a positive force for change. Many of these actions would benefit from a fifth commissioner at the Federal Communications Commission and an Assistant Attorney General for DOJ's Antitrust Division, so we urge President Biden to nominate people to these positions quickly.”

Public Knowledge applauded the Biden Administration’s efforts to increase competition and promote fairness in the new digital economy and encourages Congress to support this vision for greater competition. President and CEO Chris Lewis said, "We can’t expect large corporations like broadband providers and dominant digital platforms to meet public interest needs because they are driven by profits and control many markets as monopolies or duopolies. We must require them to reflect our societal interests — by insisting that they meet public interest obligations and compete for us. As a direct result of competition, consumers can expect lower prices, more choices, higher quality products and services, and new innovations."

David Friedman, Vice President, Advocacy for Consumer Reports, said, “For decades, some companies have been amassing and abusing power at the expense of consumers. This order is an important step in highlighting some of the serious problems facing consumers today due to our over-concentrated marketplace. It will be critical for agencies to quickly move these steps forward. Our leaders need to do this and much more to start rebalancing power between giant corporations and the consumers they are supposed to serve.”

"President Biden forcefully rebuked the destructive antitrust framework that has allowed monopoly power to grow unchecked for more than 40 years. We hope this marks the beginning of the end of the so-called consumer welfare standard, which has distorted America’s antitrust laws and biased enforcement in favor of consolidation, said Institute for Local Self-Reliance Co-Directoir Stacy Mitchell. "We are particularly heartened by measures that seek to address the rampant anti-competitive abuse by the Big Tech giants, call on the antitrust agencies to establish new merger guidelines, direct the USDA to examine how concentration in grocery retailing is harming farmers and eaters, and instruct federal agencies to use their procurement contracts to reduce concentration and shift market share to smaller businesses."

"First reaction: context and facts matter. Context and facts about the performance and track record of broadband providers and the overall state of today’s red hot communications marketplace is key to making rational and productive decisions about connectivity policy. Unfortunately, when it comes to its comments on broadband, context and facts are largely missing from the Executive Order’s fact sheet," said USTelecom CEO Jonathan Spalter

NCTA—The Internet & Television Association said, "We are disappointed that the Executive Order rehashes misleading claims about the broadband marketplace, including the tired and disproven assertion that ISPs would block or throttle consumers from accessing the internet content of their choice. America’s broadband networks have been the nation’s most resilient and critical infrastructure during the pandemic, keeping our economy moving and enabling our citizens to learn, work and stay connected from the safety of their homes. As policymakers and industry share the goal of connecting every American to robust and reliable broadband service, we hope the Administration will put the rhetoric aside and focus on constructive solutions."

CTIA, which represents major US cellphone carriers, device makers and other wireless ecosystem players, called out “the billions” invested by industry as driving a competitive and pro-consumer market. “The White House missed a clear opportunity today to hold out the wireless industry as a competitive success story to be replicated in other industries. Today’s action regrettably appears more focused on expanding government’s role than promoting new competition,” CTIA stated, adding that the White House action lacks good data about the wireless consumer experience, stating more than 99% of Americans can choose between three or more wireless providers.  

OTI Hails Biden Competition Order Public Knowledge Applauds White House Executive Order to Increase Competition in Digital Economy Acting Chairwoman Rosenworcel on Competition-Focused Executive Order Commissioner Starks On President Biden's Competition Executive Order Consumer Reports: White House executive order is an important step that highlights need for greater competition in the U.S. mark Context and Facts Matter: A Response to the White House Executive Order Fact Sheet Statement of NCTA – The Internet & Television Association Regarding the White House Fact Sheet on the Executive Order Promoting Statement of FTC Chair Lina Khan and Antitrust Division Acting Assistant Attorney General Richard A. Powers on Competition Execu Commissioner Carr Statement on White House Executive Order Biden Repudiates Decades of Pro-Monopoly Policies and Takes a Major Step Toward Restoring Fair Markets for Small Businesses, Far Commissioner Simington Comments on Competition Executive Order Schwartzman: Biden Executive Order Will Garner Broad Public Support (Benton Institute) Wireless industry groups critical of Biden’s executive order on competition