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Seesaw in the air: Interconnection regulation and the structure of mobile tariffs


  • Genakos, Christos
  • Valletti, Tommaso


Interconnection rates are a key variable in telecommunications markets. Every call that is placed must be terminated by the network of the receiving party, thus the termination end has the characteristic of an economic bottleneck and is subject to regulation in many countries. This paper examines the impact of regulatory intervention to cut termination rates of calls to mobile phones. We argue that regulatory cuts should have a differential impact according to the type of tariff the mobile customer subscribes to. While all mobile customers may pay higher prices because of a "waterbed" effect, termination rates also affect competition among mobile operators. We show that the waterbed effect is diluted, but not eliminated, for customers with pre-paid cards, where regulation also acts as impediment to "raise-each-other's-cost" collusive strategies that mobile networks can adopt. The waterbed effect is instead strongest for consumers with post-paid subscription contracts.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:iepoli:v:23:y:2011:i:2:p:159-170

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Vogelsang Ingo, 2013. "The Endgame of Telecommunications Policy? A Survey," Review of Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 64(3), pages 193-270, December.
    2. I. Vogelsang, 2015. "Will the U.S. and EU telecommunications policies converge? A survey," Economia e Politica Industriale: Journal of Industrial and Business Economics, Springer;Associazione Amici di Economia e Politica Industriale, vol. 42(2), pages 117-155, June.
    3. Hoernig, Steffen, 2014. "The strength of the waterbed effect depends on tariff type," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 125(2), pages 291-294.
    4. Lee, Jongyong & Lee, Duk Hee, 2012. "Asymmetry of mobile termination rates and the waterbed effect," 23rd European Regional ITS Conference, Vienna 2012 60353, International Telecommunications Society (ITS).
    5. Jullien, Bruno & Rey, Patrick & Sand-Zantman, Wilfried, 2013. "Termination fees revisited," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 31(6), pages 738-750.
    6. George, Lisa M., 2016. "Mobile, Media & More: Contributions and Developments at Information Economics and Policy," Information Economics and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 37(C), pages 1-2.
    7. 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.
    8. Kjetil Andersson & Øystein Foros & Bjørn Hansen, 2016. "Empirical Evidence on the Relationship between Mobile Termination Rates and Firms' Profits," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 118(1), pages 129-149, January.

    More about this item


    Mobile telephony Termination rates Two-way access charges Regulation;

    JEL classification:

    • L13 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Oligopoly and Other Imperfect Markets
    • L51 - Industrial Organization - - Regulation and Industrial Policy - - - Economics of Regulation


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