Issues on convergence in the ICT area can be divided into technology convergence, market convergence, convergence of regulatory provisions, and convergence of regulatory organizations. In the section on ‘Technological Trends’ of this study, the technology aspects regarding network and service convergence and, hence, end-user equipment are analyzed. In the section on ‘Market and Regulation’, there is focus on the market aspects of ICT convergence and divergence. In the present sub-section, the general features of the regulatory provisions regarding convergence are examined, and in the sub-section on ‘Organizational Aspects’, potential organizational implications are analyzed.
Focus in the discussions on the implications of technology and market convergence on the regulatory provisions (laws) has partly differed in different parts of the world. In the US, emphasis has mainly been on the possibilities for enhancing competition, when different networks can deliver essentially similar services, and on the problems for competition created by the horizontal integration of operators, e.g. when the same operators own different kinds of infrastructures (see practice note on access competition in the USA). In Europe, focus has been more on the broader societal advantages that convergence potentially entails in the form of new services and new industries. Conversely, the downside has been seen as the problems that this may create for content regulation related primarily to public service provisions in the broadcast area. In many developing countries, the main interest has been the new access possibilities and the discussions on unified licensing. These differences in the main focus do not, however, mean that the other issues have been out of scope in the different countries. The issue of new access possibilities will mostly be strongly correlated with increased competition, but it means that the emphasis has differed.
Technology convergence provides the possibility for new competitors to enter the markets. Telephony can, in addition to traditional PSTN operators, be offered by cable TV operators, for example, but these positive implications may be undermined by operators owning different infrastructures horizontally. Horizontal integration can also be seen in the content area, where content products, for instance computer games, can run on many different platforms. However, this does not constitute a problem equal to the infrastructure area, as content is not a bottleneck or an essential facility (see practice note on the essential facility doctrine). There may, however, be arguments relating to media pluralism and the problems in cross-media ownership affecting horizontal integration in the content areas.
The ‘rule of thumb’ regarding horizontal and vertical integration of market players is that horizontal technology convergence potentially is beneficial to competition. However, the competition enhancing implications of technological horizontal convergence are diminished when individual companies integrate horizontally, increasing their market power across different technology platforms. With respect to vertical integration, this will, in most cases, not in itself hurt competition. However, when vertical integration is combined with horizontal market dominance in one of the market layers, vertical integration may impede competition.
An example of the combination of vertical integration and market dominance horizontally is the provision of DSL services in markets with one operator dominating the provision of local copper loops. In such a market, the owners of the local loops have a clear advantage in the provision of DSL services. This has been witnessed in the actual developments of market shares in the DSL area. The problem of vertical integration is much smaller if combining market dominance in the local loop market with content provisions, i.e. ‘higher’ in the value chain than conveyance services. Even though an access infrastructure provider can have an interest in offering content services to supplement its infrastructure provision, the interest in having traffic on the network caused by the provision of content services by other companies may supercede the interest in dominating the content market.
An additional type of question relating to ICT convergence has centered on how to promote new convergent services and converging industries. Whereas the different communication and media industries formerly were more confined to their specific areas, technology convergence creates possibilities for companies to develop and deliver services across technology platforms, and for users to get access to new kinds of communication and media services. In connection with this, issues regarding cross media ownership problems have also played a role. For many decades, some countries have had legislation limiting cross media ownership in order to support pluralism in the media. Convergence tendencies in the media are thus not entirely new. The new issue is that with technology convergence, there are not only market reasons for integrating companies from different business areas; there is also a stronger technology basis.
In developing countries, the highest interest has centered on the new possibilities for people to get access to communication facilities by means of different technological solutions. The implications are that the use of different technologies should be promoted and, that universal access policies should not focus specifically on PSTN access but more on the wider range of different technology access possibilities. Part of this may be to change the licensing regime in direction of unified licensing instead of technology specific licenses, if licensing is considered to be necessary at all.
 European Commission: ‘Green Paper [COM(1997)623]
on the Convergence of the Telecommunications, Media and Information Technology Sectors, and the Implications for Regulation: Towards an Information Society Approach’, December 1997.
 On access, see ITU: ‘Trends in Telecommunication Reform 2003: Promoting Universal Access to ICTs: Practical Tools for Regulators’, ITU, Geneva, 2003. On licensing, see ITU: ‘Trends in Telecommunication Reform 2004/05: Licensing in an Era of Convergence’, ITU, Geneva, 2004.
 These issues are discussed in a report from the Nordic competition authorities, ’Telecompetition: Towards a Single Nordic Market for Telecommunications Services?’, no. 1, 2004, Nordic Council of Ministers, pp. 90-104. The ‘rules of thumb’ are taken from this report. A theory overview can be found in, for instance, Patrick Rey and Jean Tirole: ‘A Primer on Foreclosure’, IDEI Working Papers no. 203, 2003, Institut d'Économie Industrielle (IDEI), Toulouse.