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Network growth: Theory and evidence from the mobile telephone industry

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  • Cunningham, Brendan M.
  • Alexander, Peter J.
  • Candeub, Adam

Abstract

Firms in mobile telephone markets place termination charges on one another for delivering calls to subscribers. We present a model of consumer and firm behavior in mobile markets in order to identify the role of termination charges in determining the market equilibrium. Our model predicts a "waterbed effect", that is, high termination rates will be associated with low subscription prices, if preferences are the primary source of variation in termination rates. If costs are the main driver of termination rates our model predicts a "tide" hypothesis in which high termination rates exist alongside high subscription prices. We test these and other predictions from our model using international data on mobile subscriptions per person. We find results which are broadly consistent with our model. More specifically, we find evidence that mobile termination rates are positive and significantly related to mobile phone adoption. This result is robust to the inclusion of a variety of other structural, institutional, demographic, and income controls. We also find that competition, internet subscriptions, and a free press are positively associated with mobile phone adoption while fixed termination rates and inequality slow the adoption of mobile technologies.

Suggested Citation

  • Cunningham, Brendan M. & Alexander, Peter J. & Candeub, Adam, 2010. "Network growth: Theory and evidence from the mobile telephone industry," Information Economics and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 91-102, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:iepoli:v:22:y:2010:i:1:p:91-102
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Joan Calzada & Tommaso M. Valletti, 2008. "Network Competition and Entry Deterrence," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 118(531), pages 1223-1244, August.
    2. Christos Genakos & Tommaso Valletti, 2011. "Testing The “Waterbed” Effect In Mobile Telephony," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 9(6), pages 1114-1142, December.
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    6. Degraba Patrick, 2002. "Bill and Keep as the Efficient Interconnection Regime?: A Reply," Review of Network Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 1(1), pages 1-5, March.
    7. Ingo Vogelsang, 2003. "Price Regulation of Access to Telecommunications Networks," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 41(3), pages 830-862, September.
    8. Daniel Birke & G. Swann, 2006. "Network effects and the choice of mobile phone operator," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 16(1), pages 65-84, April.
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    10. Binmore, Ken & Harbord, David, 2005. "Bargaining Over Fixed-to-Mobile Termination Rates in the Shadow of the Regulator," MPRA Paper 3248, University Library of Munich, Germany.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Dewenter, Ralf & Kruse, Jörn, 2011. "Calling party pays or receiving party pays? The diffusion of mobile telephony with endogenous regulation," Information Economics and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 23(1), pages 107-117, March.
    2. Rohit Prasad & Rupamanjari Ray, 2015. "The relation of traffic balance and network size: a case from the indian mobile industry," Netnomics, Springer, vol. 16(3), pages 149-167, December.
    3. Hawthorne, Ryan, 2016. "Do call termination rate interventions affect developing countries (with smaller fixed line networks) differently? Testing for the ‘waterbed effect' for non-linear tariffs in South Africa," 27th European Regional ITS Conference, Cambridge (UK) 2016 148673, International Telecommunications Society (ITS).
    4. Cricelli, Livio & Grimaldi, Michele & Levialdi Ghiron, Nathan, 2012. "The impact of regulating mobile termination rates and MNO–MVNO relationships on retail prices," Telecommunications Policy, Elsevier, vol. 36(1), pages 1-12.
    5. Genakos, Christos & Valletti, Tommaso, 2011. "Seesaw in the air: Interconnection regulation and the structure of mobile tariffs," Information Economics and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 23(2), pages 159-170, June.
    6. Genakos, Christos & Valletti, Tommaso, 2012. "Regulating prices in two-sided markets: The waterbed experience in mobile telephony," Telecommunications Policy, Elsevier, vol. 36(5), pages 360-368.
    7. Kongaut, Chatchai & Bohlin, Erik, 2012. "Impacts of mobile termination rates (MTRs) on retail prices: The implication for regulators," 23rd European Regional ITS Conference, Vienna 2012 60348, International Telecommunications Society (ITS).

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