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Seesaw in the Air: Interconnection Regulation and the Structure of Mobile Tariffs

  • Christos Genakos
  • Tommaso Valletti

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 monthly (post-paid) subscription contracts.

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Paper provided by Centre for Economic Performance, LSE in its series CEP Discussion Papers with number dp1045.

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Date of creation: Feb 2011
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Handle: RePEc:cep:cepdps:dp1045
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://cep.lse.ac.uk/_new/publications/series.asp?prog=CEP

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  1. Armstrong, Mark, 2001. "The theory of access pricing and interconnection," MPRA Paper 15608, University Library of Munich, Germany.
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  4. Vogelsang, Ingo, 2010. "The relationship between mobile and fixed-line communications: A survey," Information Economics and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 4-17, March.
  5. Christos Genakos & Tommaso Valletti, 2007. "Testing the "waterbed" effect in mobile telephony," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 19680, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  6. Harbord David & Pagnozzi Marco, 2010. "Network-Based Price Discrimination and `Bill-and-Keep' vs. `Cost-Based' Regulation of Mobile Termination Rates," Review of Network Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 9(1), pages 1-46, February.
  7. 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.
  8. Jean-Jacques Laffont & Patrick Rey & Jean Tirole, 1998. "Network Competition: I. Overview and Nondiscriminatory Pricing," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 29(1), pages 1-37, Spring.
  9. Ginger Zhe Jin & Marc Rysman, 2012. "Platform Pricing at Sports Card Conventions," NBER Working Papers 17959, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Harbord, David & Hoernig, Steffen, 2010. "Welfare Analysis of Regulating Mobile Termination Rates in the UK (with an Application to the Orange/T-Mobile Merger)," CEPR Discussion Papers 7730, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  11. K. Andersson & � Foros & F. Steen, 2009. "Text and voice: complements, substitutes or both?," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 18(6), pages 1231-1247, December.
  12. Ingo Vogelsang, 2003. "Price Regulation of Access to Telecommunications Networks," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 41(3), pages 830-862, September.
  13. 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.
  14. Hoernig, Steffen, 2014. "Competition between multiple asymmetric networks: Theory and applications," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 32(C), pages 57-69.
  15. Gans, Joshua S. & King, Stephen P., 2000. "Mobile network competition, customer ignorance and fixed-to-mobile call prices," Information Economics and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 12(4), pages 301-327, December.
  16. Armstrong, Mark, 1998. "Network Interconnection in Telecommunications," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 108(448), pages 545-64, May.
  17. Armstrong, M., 1996. "Network interconnection," Discussion Paper Series In Economics And Econometrics 9625, Economics Division, School of Social Sciences, University of Southampton.
  18. Audrey Laporte & Frank Windmeijer, 2005. "Estimation of Panel Data Models with Binary Indicators when Treatment Effects are not Constant over Time," Working Papers laporte-04-01, University of Toronto, Department of Economics.
  19. Wright, Julian, 2002. "Access Pricing under Competition: An Application to Cellular Networks," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 50(3), pages 289-315, September.
  20. Tommaso Valletti & George Houpis, 2005. "Mobile Termination: What is the “Right” Charge?," Journal of Regulatory Economics, Springer, vol. 28(3), pages 235-258, November.
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