In the Internet age, access has become a key issue for regulation and antitrust. Many Internet libertarians count on low costs of entry and a robust competitive environment, but many segments of the new Internet-based economy, driven by the perceived requirement to show worldwide presence to reach scale economies, might develop towards structures controlled by highly dominant enterprises.
Against this background, this paper reviews, from a European Union perspective, three issues which in the view of the author are fundamental to driving theory and practice with regard to access to telecommunications and the Internet in the European Union: it reviews the current EU framework of access and interconnection to the basic layer of Internet access, the telecommunications network; it then takes a closer look at the recent changes of the system, even if the current reform process has not yet concluded; and it discusses access and control of the Internet and the concept of "top-level Internet connectivity" which has lately become central in this context.
Behind the global effects of "top-level-connectivity" looms a fundamental challenge for global antitrust governance. Given the lack of efficient multilateral structures to deal with this challenge, the major regions are struggling to deal with this new phenomenon in existing frameworks– unilaterally within their local markets, as well as through bilateral cooperation in global markets.
In conclusion, the paper assesses the critical role now played by bilateral international antitrust cooperation–global governance by default.