Digital platforms and gatekeepers

Large digital conglomerates are actively shaping the digital space. Their digital platforms and ecosystems have a significant and still increasing economic importance and trigger a multitude of digital innovations. Therefore, RTR-GmbH's Telecommunications and Postal Services Division (RTR FB TKP) intends to monitor communications services and digital gatekeepers. The monitoring will focus on platforms and ecosystems, their market power and their behavior, which may consist of measures to support tipping and suppress competitive pressure from third parties in and for the market. In addition to RTR FB TKP, this monitoring is also intended to inform other institutions about essential competitive aspects of platforms. As such, it is also part of the intensified cooperation with the BWB on digital issues agreed upon last fall.

A study by RTR FB TKP published in summer 2019 analysed the importance of operating systems and App Stores for the open Internet. The newly published methodological document presents an approach for measuring and assessing the market power of digital platforms and ecosystems, which is intended to provide a structured methodology for describing the competitive dimensions and provide a basis for future competition analyses. This is intended to facilitate a preliminary assessment with regard to essential aspects and possible adverse economic effects. Ultimately, an assessment often also involves a balancing of economic loss and efficiency gains induced by a particular conduct.

The results we strive to achieve with this approach do not represent a final assessment according to competition law. The regulatory authority itself, as well as other relevant decision-making bodies and institutions (e.g. in the fields of data protection, administration, etc.) should be able to use this information for their tasks and considerations as a preliminary system.

In a next step and based on the methodological framework presented here, communication services and, subsequently, browsers and search engines will be examined in more detail in an upcoming study. A review of this methodological document is planned towards the end of 2020. In this context, the results of a study on gatekeepers commissioned by the European Commission and to be published by autumn will be taken into account, in addition to the experiences gained in the application to specific platforms and gatekeepers in the course of our own study.


Study: The Open Internet: OS, Apps and App Stores

Methodological document: Monitoring of digital communication platforms and gatekeepers of the open Internet