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Entry Deterrence and the Calculation of the Net Cost of Universal Service Obligations

  • Christian Jaag

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This paper relates to the current discussion about how to measure the net cost and unfair burden of universal service provision in network industries. The established profitability cost approach compares the profit of a universal service provider (USP) with and without a universal service obligation (USO). This paper argues that the net cost of universal service provision critically depends on the regulatory counterfactual and hence the USP’s strategy space without USO. A strong USO invites competition by limiting the USP’s means to position itself in the market and by thereby offering cream-skimming opportunities. On the other hand, a simple game-theoretic entry analysis shows that the USO may effectively serve as a valuable strategic commitment device to deter entry and hence may be valuable to the USP despite causing inefficient production. From a policy perspective, this constitutes a counter-intuitive result for the definition of the USO: The stricter it is regulated, the more detrimental it may be to competition and therefore the smaller is its burden on the USP.

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File URL: http://www.swiss-economics.ch/RePEc/files/0020Jaag.pdf
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Paper provided by Swiss Economics in its series Working Papers with number 0020.

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Date of creation: Jun 2010
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Handle: RePEc:chc:wpaper:0020
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  1. Dixit, Avinash, 1979. "The Role of Investment in Entry-Deterrence," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 140, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  2. Boldron, François & Cremer, Helmuth & De Donder, Philippe & Joram, Denis & Roy, Bernard, 2007. "Social costs and benefits of the universal service obligation in the postal market," IDEI Working Papers 456, Institut d'Économie Industrielle (IDEI), Toulouse.
  3. Christian Jaag & Urs Trinkner, 2008. "Tendering Universal Service Obligations in Liberalized Network Industries," Working Papers 0013, Swiss Economics, revised Jan 2009.
  4. Christian Jaag, 2007. "Liberalization of the Swiss Letter Market and the Viability of Universal Service Obligations," Working Papers 0006, Swiss Economics.
  5. Harstad, Ronald M & Crew, Michael A, 1999. "Franchise Bidding without Holdups: Utility Regulation with Efficient Pricing and Choice of Provider," Journal of Regulatory Economics, Springer, vol. 15(2), pages 141-63, March.
  6. A. Michael Spence, 1977. "Entry, Capacity, Investment and Oligopolistic Pricing," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 8(2), pages 534-544, Autumn.
  7. Martin J. Osborne & Ariel Rubinstein, 1994. "A Course in Game Theory," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262650401, June.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. Panzar, John C., 2000. "A methodology for measuring the costs of universal service obligations," Information Economics and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 12(3), pages 211-220, September.
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