Competition in Mobile Telephony in France and Germany
This paper provides an insight into the antitrust investigation initiated by the French competition authority, which found that mobile operators exchanged strategic information and agreed to fix market shares in years the 2000-2002. The empirical analysis is based on the comparison of mobile markets in France and Germany and uses aggregate industry-level data on subscriptions and prices. The penetration of mobile phones at the end of 1999 was higher in France than in Germany, but this situation was reversed by the end of 2002. In the same time period, minimum prices of mobile services in France, computed for a defined low-usage basket, were on average by about 58% lower than the corresponding prices in Germany. The results of binomial logit demand estimation suggest two explanations for this situation. First, there is a significant difference between price elasticities of demand in these two countries. Second, consumers seem to perceive mobile telephony as a substitute to fixed-line connection in France and as a complement in Germany. However, in a separate reduced-form estimation we do not find a significant effect of prices for fixed-line services on mobile prices in either country. Furthermore, the estimation results suggest that the share-fixing agreement in France could have slowed down subscriptions, but we fail to find that it had an adverse effect on prices.
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