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Universal service obligations in the postal sector: The relationship between quality and coverage

  • Calzada, Joan

This paper examines competition in the postal sector when one private incumbent and one entrant play a three-stage game. First, firms choose their coverage. Then, they choose the quality of the mail. Finally, firms choose the price. I modify the traditional model of product differentiation proposed by Mussa and Rosen [Mussa, M., Rosen, S., 1978. Monopoly and product quality. Journal of Economic Theory 18, 301-317] in order to consider that firms decide their quality and coverage. Valletti et al. [Valletti, T., Hoernig, S., Barros, P., 2002. Universal service and entry: the role of uniform pricing and coverage constraints. Journal of Regulatory Economics 21 (2), 169-190] show that when an incumbent is regulated by a uniform pricing constraint the entrant will choose a low level of coverage to increase the incumbent's uniform price and weaken competition. In this paper, I show that by increasing product differentiation, the entrant can obtain the same price increase with a smaller reduction of coverage. Acknowledgement of the strategic link between quality and coverage can be very useful in the design of a regulatory policy. The paper also considers a mixed duopoly in which the public firm covers the entire market and offers high quality service. In this context, I explain that the mixed equilibrium implements the first-best qualities and coverage levels.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Information Economics and Policy.

Volume (Year): 21 (2009)
Issue (Month): 1 (February)
Pages: 10-20

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Handle: RePEc:eee:iepoli:v:21:y:2009:i:1:p:10-20
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/505549

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  1. Cremer, Helmuth & Thisse, Jacques-François, 1993. "Commodity Taxation in a Differentiated Oligopoly," IDEI Working Papers 25, Institut d'Économie Industrielle (IDEI), Toulouse.
  2. Rosston, Gregory L. & Wimmer, Bradley S., 2000. "The 'state' of universal service," Information Economics and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 12(3), pages 261-283, September.
  3. Joan Calzada, 2009. "Access charges under two-tier pricing," Journal of Regulatory Economics, Springer, vol. 35(3), pages 296-311, June.
  4. Crampes, C. & Hollander, A., 1991. "Duopoly and Quality Standards," Cahiers de recherche 9128, Centre interuniversitaire de recherche en économie quantitative, CIREQ.
  5. Cremer, Helmuth, et al, 2001. "Entry and Competition in the Postal Market: Foundations for the Construction of Entry Scenarios," Journal of Regulatory Economics, Springer, vol. 19(2), pages 107-21, March.
  6. Helmuth Cremer & Philippe De Donder & François Boldron & Bernard Roy, 2008. "Social Costs and Benefits of the Universal Service Obligation in the Postal Market," Chapters, in: Competition and Regulation in the Postal and Delivery Sector, chapter 2 Edward Elgar.
  7. Valletti, Tommaso M & Hoernig, Steffen & Barros, Pedro P, 2002. "Universal Service and Entry: The Role of Uniform Pricing and Coverage Constraints," Journal of Regulatory Economics, Springer, vol. 21(2), pages 169-90, March.
  8. Mark Armstrong, 2001. "Access Pricing, Bypass, and Universal Service," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(2), pages 297-301, May.
  9. Cremer, Helmuth & Marchand, Maurice & Thisse, Jacques-Francois, 1991. "Mixed oligopoly with differentiated products," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 9(1), pages 43-53, March.
  10. H. Cremer & F. Gasmi & A. Grimaud & J. J. Laffont, 2001. "Universal Service: An economic perspective," Annals of Public and Cooperative Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 72(1), pages 5-43, 03.
  11. Crew, Michael A & Kleindorfer, Paul R, 1998. "Efficient Entry, Monopoly, and the Universal Service Obligation in Postal Service," Journal of Regulatory Economics, Springer, vol. 14(2), pages 103-25, September.
  12. Mussa, Michael & Rosen, Sherwin, 1978. "Monopoly and product quality," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 18(2), pages 301-317, August.
  13. Rosston, G.R. & Wimmer, B.S., 2000. "The "State" of Universal Service," Papers 99-018, United Nations World Employment Programme-.
  14. Gasmi, Farid & Laffont, Jean-Jacques & Sharkey, William, 1999. "Competition, Universal Service and Telecommunications Policy in Developing Countries," IDEI Working Papers 92, Institut d'Économie Industrielle (IDEI), Toulouse.
  15. Chone, Philippe & Flochel, Laurent & Perrot, Anne, 2000. "Universal service obligations and competition," Information Economics and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 12(3), pages 249-259, September.
  16. K. Sridhar Moorthy, 1988. "Product and Price Competition in a Duopoly," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 7(2), pages 141-168.
  17. Germà Bel & Joan Calzada, 2009. "Privatization and Universal Service Obligations," Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (JITE), Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 165(4), pages 650-669, December.
  18. Rodriguez, Frank & Storer, David, 2000. "Alternative approaches to estimating the cost of the USO in posts," Information Economics and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 12(3), pages 285-299, September.
  19. Valletti, Tommaso M, 2000. "Minimum Quality Standards under Cournot Competition," Journal of Regulatory Economics, Springer, vol. 18(3), pages 235-45, November.
  20. Uri Ronnen, 1991. "Minimum Quality Standards, Fixed Costs, and Competition," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 22(4), pages 490-504, Winter.
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