The discussions have centered on whether and to what extent infrastructure and service competition exclude or supplement each other, and whether there is a ‘ladder’ in the markets from service to infrastructure-based competition, so that operators will advance in the markets from service-based competition to infrastructure-based competition. The ‘ladder’ theory has hitherto been the dominating framework, but has increasingly been criticized for not putting enough emphasis on infrastructure competition and even, in reality, being a barrier to infrastructure competition. The individual operators will make their choices regarding different competitive strategies based partly on the immediate costs and benefits of different business models.
However, strategies are also determined on basis of longer term approaches including decisions on building own infrastructures or relying on the infrastructures of other operators. Instead of looking solely at the individual operators and their ascent up the ‘ladder’, it is also necessary to examine the long-term strategies of the different operators. Some operators will build their own infrastructures under all circumstances, while other operators will concentrate on a service-based approach. The optimal policy is, therefore, to support all kinds of competitive strategies. Instead of viewing service and infrastructure based competition as alternative policy options, an optimal policy is to consider them as complements.