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Consolidation

Consolidation is not a new phenomenon, but often an expected evolution as industries and markets mature. Opportunities to reduce costs, expand market share, and enhance scalability are intrinsic incentives in any economic domain where companies acquire competitors or subsume parts of the production chain. This is also true for the Internet Economy, understood as those economic activities that either support the Internet (e.g. Internet Service Providers) or are fundamentally dependent on the Internet’s existence (e.g. video streaming services).

The fact that a few corporations dominate large parts of the Internet is not news. Today, a handful of actors play a significant role in our increasingly-connected societies. In this context, there is a growing concern about the dominance of a small number of corporations – typically Internet platforms – shaping the online world and its use. For some, the concerns relate to the lack of competition in specific markets, its impact on future investments, while also raising question if some economic actors are “too big to fail”. Other commentators and the media make use of colorful acronyms, such as the “GAFAs” (Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon), “FANGs” (Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, Google), or “the BATs” (Baidu, Alibaba, Tencent) to describe a limited number of players dominating innovation and opportunities online.

While new entrants may appear in the future, to many people these Internet giants have become the primary means for gaining access to the Internet, for education, for news, for finding jobs, for shopping, or for staying in touch with loved ones. To some, they are an important part of making the Internet relevant to everyday life.

By using consolidation of the Internet Economy as a starting point, the 2019 Global Internet Report will look towards the future and investigate the impact of consolidation on the other “Drivers of Change” identified in 2017. It will notably take a closer look at its technical implications and whether the forces of consolidation are hampering or enhancing users’ ability to choose the services they want, to protect their privacy, and to share information unhindered. Through the lens of its impact on the Drivers it will explore questions such as the potential consolidation of network traffic and an evolving Internet architecture, its impact on cybersecurity, and what consolidation of the Internet Economy means for regulation and a centralization of power in the next three to five years.

Consolidation News

Making the Internet Better Together at APRICOT 2019
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Improving Technical Security 12 March 2019

Making the Internet Better Together at APRICOT 2019

Asia Pacific Regional Internet Conference on Operational Technologies (APRICOT) 2019, said to be the largest technical conference in the...

Internet Society Launches Research Project to Understand the Effects of Consolidation in the Internet Economy
Press Releases 26 February 2019

Internet Society Launches Research Project to Understand the Effects of Consolidation in the Internet Economy

2019 Global Internet Report Highlights The Need for Clarity in Key Areas WASHINGTON, DC – February 26, 2019–The Internet Society...

The Global Internet Report: Consolidation in the Internet Economy
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Shaping the Internet's Future 26 February 2019

The Global Internet Report: Consolidation in the Internet Economy

The 2017 Global Internet Report: Paths to Our Digital Future focused attention on the significant potential of the Internet...

Future Thinking: Alissa Cooper on the Technical Impact of Internet Consolidation
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Shaping the Internet's Future 12 February 2019

Future Thinking: Alissa Cooper on the Technical Impact of Internet Consolidation

Alissa Cooper is a Fellow at Cisco Systems. She has been serving as the Chair of the Internet Engineering...

Future Thinking: Chris Yiu of the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change
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Shaping the Internet's Future 9 January 2019

Future Thinking: Chris Yiu of the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change

Chris Yiu is a senior policy fellow for technology in the Renewing the Centre team at the Tony Blair...

Future Thinking: Orla Lynskey on Data in the Age of Consolidation
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Shaping the Internet's Future 7 December 2018

Future Thinking: Orla Lynskey on Data in the Age of Consolidation

Orla Lynskey is an associate professor of law at the London School of Economics and Political Science. Her primary...

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