Since the last publication in 2012, the world has changed in innumerable ways—and with it, every corner of the telecom sector. Geopolitical changes have brought an onslaught of supply chain, national security, and foreign policy concerns—for government, industry, consumers, everyone. “Unexpected”, “unimaginable”, and “unprecedented’ became routine descriptors for world shifting events, from Brexit in 2016, Covid-19 shutting down much of the world in 2020, to increasing tensions between China and certain Western countries, the Russian war with Ukraine, and beyond. Technological changes abounded, from 4G to 5G technology development and deployment, semiconductor advances, ORAN, artificial intelligence use cases for network optimization and beyond. Changes also came in the form of new industry participants and partnerships and changes in competitive forces and dynamics. In a short period of time, competition has emerged from traditional partners to established companies in the telecommunications space and from competitors in adjacent areas, such as tech companies and hardware or equipment suppliers. These changes have certainly changed the calculus for companies in the telecom space considering mergers and acquisitions. The substantive legal approaches, by contrast, may be generally less dramatically affected with some key exceptions in the United States in particular where the enforcers are willing to risk a loss in court in an attempt to extend the law to fit their view of how the substantive law should be interpreted.
This foreword starts with developments in Europe, continues with our analysis of the same in the US, and finishes with our outlook for the future. In short, the last decade has been a whirlwind, and we expect changing technology and new competitive dynamics to keep things interesting going forward.