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Local and Global Competition in Information Technology

Jun 1999
Working Paper
99-007
By  Timothy Bresnahan, John Richards
We examine the implications of changing competitive dynamics in global information and communications technology (ICT) markets for government demand-steering policies whose goal is local rents. Both computing and telephony are undergoing changes in global industry structure and changes in the nature of competition. The convergence of computing and telephony and the rapid technological change (and accompanying technological uncertainty) driving this convergence reinforce trends toward vertical competition. The emergence of global ICT markets lowers entry barriers, likely encouraging government- supported local entrants into global ICT markets. There are, however, strongly offsetting disadvantages. The underlying economics of ICT markets under vertical competition will work to reinforce the dominant position of U.S.-based incumbents in many segments. The prospects for exports, command of rent-related standards, and large rents from exports are not very bright. We expect to see far more demand-steering attempts than successes.