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Switching Costs and Introductory Pricing in the Wireless Service Industry

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  • Jorge Ale

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    (Department of Economics, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem)

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    Abstract

    In this article I analyze the effects of a recent reform intended to decrease switching costs in the cellular industry. The reform, implemented in Chile in 2012, allowed cell phone users to switch operators without any contract restriction while keeping their wireless number. Its aim was the belief that lower switching costs would force incumbent companies to charge lower prices by introducing more competition among them. I test the empirical implications of models of switching costs using individual data on customers' bills and plans. I find that average price decreased by 7.2 percent. Moreover, my results provide evidence that the operators reacted primarily by decreasing the price of on-net plans and by offering handsets with data connectivity at a discounted rate. I also find a decrease in the introductory price discounts that operators offer to new customers. I interpret this result as due to the lower ability of the firms to lock-in customers.

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    File URL: http://www.netinst.org/Ale_13-17.pdf
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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by NET Institute in its series Working Papers with number 13-17.

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    Length: 25 pages
    Date of creation: Sep 2013
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:net:wpaper:1317

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    Related research

    Keywords: Switching Costs; Price Discounts; Number Portability; Wireless Industry; Telecommunications.;

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    1. Stole, Lars A., 2007. "Price Discrimination and Competition," Handbook of Industrial Organization, Elsevier.
    2. Stole, Lars A, 1995. "Nonlinear Pricing and Oligopoly," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 4(4), pages 529-62, Winter.
    3. Minjung Park, 2011. "The Economic Impact of Wireless Number Portability," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 59(4), pages 714-745, December.
    4. Yongmin Chen, 1997. "Paying Customers to Switch," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 6(4), pages 877-897, December.
    5. Meghan Busse & Marc Rysman, 2005. "Competition and Price Discrimination in Yellow Pages Advertising," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 36(2), pages 378-390, Summer.
    6. Jean-Charles Rochet & Lars A. Stole, 2002. "Nonlinear Pricing with Random Participation," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 69(1), pages 277-311.
    7. Timothy H. Hannan, 2008. "Consumer switching costs and firm pricing: evidence from bank pricing of deposit accounts," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2008-32, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    8. Kim, Moshe & Kliger, Doron & Vale, Bent, 2003. "Estimating switching costs: the case of banking," Journal of Financial Intermediation, Elsevier, vol. 12(1), pages 25-56, January.
    9. von Weizsacker, C Christian, 1984. "The Costs of Substitution," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 52(5), pages 1085-1116, September.
    10. Paul Klemperer, 1987. "The Competitiveness of Markets with Switching Costs," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 18(1), pages 138-150, Spring.
    11. Mussa, Michael & Rosen, Sherwin, 1978. "Monopoly and product quality," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 18(2), pages 301-317, August.
    12. Wesley Hartmann & V. Viard, 2008. "Do frequency reward programs create switching costs? A dynamic structural analysis of demand in a reward program," Quantitative Marketing and Economics, Springer, vol. 6(2), pages 109-137, June.
    13. V. Brian Viard, 2007. "Do switching costs make markets more or less competitive? The case of 800-number portability," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 38(1), pages 146-163, 03.
    14. Lee, Jongsu & Kim, Yeonbae & Lee, Jeong-Dong & Park, Yuri, 2006. "Estimating the extent of potential competition in the Korean mobile telecommunications market: Switching costs and number portability," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 24(1), pages 107-124, January.
    15. Beggs, Alan & Klemperer, Paul, 1990. "Multi-Period Competition with Switching Costs," CEPR Discussion Papers 436, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    16. J. Miguel Villas-Boas, 2004. "Price Cycles in Markets with Customer Recognition," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 35(3), pages 486-501, Autumn.
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