Efficient Entry, Monopoly, and the Universal Service Obligation in Postal Service
This paper analyzes the nature of and justification for the Universal Service Obligation (USO) and its relationship to the Reserved Area for Postal Service. This is motivated by problems of funding the USO in the face of increasing competition in the postal sector. After reviewing various approaches to defining and funding the USO, we develop a model to consider the optimal scope of both the Reserved Area and the USO. The model assumes an incumbent postal provider and potential entrants. The incumbent is guaranteed a monopoly franchise for services in its Reserved Area R and offers services in a possibly larger set of services U at uniform prices. All services not in R face competition from entrants. We characterize the welfare-optimal scope of R and U subject to a breakeven constraint for the incumbent. Implications for USO policy are discussed in light of the results of the analysis. Copyright 1998 by Kluwer Academic Publishers
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