LL4CS      Half Unit
Law and Economics of Network Industries

This information is for the 2023/24 session.

Teacher responsible

Professor Pablo Ibáñez Colomo


This course is available on the LLM (extended part-time), LLM (full-time), MSc in European and International Public Policy, MSc in European and International Public Policy (LSE and Bocconi), MSc in European and International Public Policy (LSE and Sciences Po), MSc in Regulation and University of Pennsylvania Law School LLM Visiting Students. This course is available as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.


This course has a limited number of places and demand is typically high. This may mean that you’re not able to get a place on this course.

Course content

The course provides an overview of the regulation of network industries. It encompasses not only sector-specific regimes but also the ways in which competition law contributes to shaping those industries.

Instead of focusing on a particular system, it revolves around the main underlying issues. The EU-UK system provides the basis for class discussions. Examples from the US will be used where relevant.

The module is divided into three parts: one that discusses generalities about the law and economics of network industries; a second that focuses on the sector-specific regimes applying to three sectors (telecommunications, energy and transport); and a third that covers the application of competition law and examines how this area of the law is transformed and adapted when it engages with sectoral regulation.

Part I: Generalities

Session 1: The Economics of Network Industries.

This session addresses the features of network industries, in particular the concepts of natural monopoly, network effects and two-sided markets. It discusses the implications of the tendency of these industries towards monopoly.

Session 2: Regulatory approaches to network industries

The second session discusses the various regulatory techniques that have been used to deal with network industries. These techniques are also put in perspective: it covers the days of exclusive rights, the liberalisation efforts in the 1980s and 1990s (in the US, the EU and beyond) as well as the modern regimes. It covers both the substantive and institutional challenges that come with the regulation of these activities.

Part II: Specific issues

Session 3: Telecommunications and electronic communications (I)

This session provides an overview of the regulation of telecommunications (or electronic communications in the EU system). After a brief overview of the basic technology-related concepts (access, interconnection) and of the evolution of regulation, it will cover the EU Regulatory Framework for electronic communications.

Session 4: Telecommunications and electronic communications (II)

This session covers some specific issues at length, in particular access to the incumbent network by new entrants and the interaction of telecommunications operators with Big Tech.

Session 5: Energy (I)

The first session covers the basic concepts (TSO, DSO) as well as the regulatory models that have been put in place in the EU and the US.

Session 6: Energy (II)

The second session would deal in detail with some contemporary challenges, namely the decarbonisation of the economy and energy prices.

Session 7: Transport

The regulation of railways gives rise to major challenges and has been controversial, in the UK and beyond. This session covers the UK model and the various liberalisation steps taken in the EU.

Part III: Competition law and network industries

Session 8: The relationship between competition law and regulation

Competition law overlaps to some extent with regulation. The question is whether the former takes precedence, or vice versa. This session covers the EU and US responses.

Session 9: Competition law and network industries (I)

Competition law is transformed when it applies to network industries. This session explores the reasons for this transformation with some concrete examples.

Session 10: Competition law and network industries (II)

See above. It builds and expands on the preceding session.


This course will have two hours of teaching content each week in Autumn Term and may include visits from experts based at regulatory authorities in the UK and the EU. Students will usually have two additional hours in the Spring Term. There will be a Reading Week in Week 6 of Autumn Term.

Formative coursework

All students are expected to produce one 2,000 word formative essay during the course.

Indicative reading

  • Christopher Decker, Modern Economic Regulation (Cambridge University Press 2014)
  • Niamh Dunne, Competition Law and Economic Regulation: Making and Managing Markets (Cambridge University Press 2015)
  • Christopher Jones (ed), EU Energy Law (Claeys & Casteels 2020)
  • Tony Prosser and Luke Butler, ‘Rail Franchises, Competition and Public Service’ (2018) 81 Modern Law Review 23
  • Oz Shy, The Economics of Network Industries (Cambridge University Press 2001)
  • Ian Walden, Telecommunications Law and Regulation (5th edn, Oxford University Press 2018)

Additional Reading:

  • Robert Baldwin, Martin Cave and Margin Lodge, Understanding Regulation (2nd edn, Oxford University Press 2012)
  • Leigh Hancher, ‘Community, State and Market’ dans Paul Craig and Grainne de Burca (eds), The Evolution of EU Law (Oxford University Press 1999), pp. 721-743
  • Stuart Minor Benjamin et James Speta, Telecommunications Law and Policy (4ème édition, Carolina Academic Press 2015), pp. 187-216
  • Stephen Breyer, Regulation and Its Reform (Harvard University Press 1984)
  • Pierre Larouche, Competition and Regulation in European Telecommunications (Hart Publishing 2000)
  • Christopher Jones (ed), EU Energy Law, Volume I - The Internal Market (Claeys & Casteels 2020)


Essay (100%, 8000 words) in the ST.

Students will be free to choose a topic concerning the regulation of network industries, whether or not covered in class (for instance, postal services, or broadcasting). The essay can relate both to sector-specific regulation and to the application of competition law to network industries.

Key facts

Department: Law School

Total students 2022/23: 28

Average class size 2022/23: 28

Controlled access 2022/23: Yes

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Course selection videos

Some departments have produced short videos to introduce their courses. Please refer to the course selection videos index page for further information.

Personal development skills

  • Leadership
  • Self-management
  • Problem solving
  • Communication
  • Commercial awareness
  • Specialist skills