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Switching Costs and Introductory Pricing in the Wireless Service Industry

  • Jorge Ale

    ()

    (Department of Economics, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem)

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    In this article I analyze the effects of a recent reform intended to decrease switching costs in the cellular industry. The reform, implemented in Chile in 2012, allowed cell phone users to switch operators without any contract restriction while keeping their wireless number. Its aim was the belief that lower switching costs would force incumbent companies to charge lower prices by introducing more competition among them. I test the empirical implications of models of switching costs using individual data on customers' bills and plans. I find that average price decreased by 7.2 percent. Moreover, my results provide evidence that the operators reacted primarily by decreasing the price of on-net plans and by offering handsets with data connectivity at a discounted rate. I also find a decrease in the introductory price discounts that operators offer to new customers. I interpret this result as due to the lower ability of the firms to lock-in customers.

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    File URL: http://www.netinst.org/Ale_13-17.pdf
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    Paper provided by NET Institute in its series Working Papers with number 13-17.

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    Length: 25 pages
    Date of creation: Sep 2013
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:net:wpaper:1317
    Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.NETinst.org/

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    1. V. Brian Viard, 2007. "Do switching costs make markets more or less competitive? The case of 800-number portability," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 38(1), pages 146-163, 03.
    2. J. Miguel Villas-Boas, 2004. "Price Cycles in Markets with Customer Recognition," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 35(3), pages 486-501, Autumn.
    3. Mussa, Michael & Rosen, Sherwin, 1978. "Monopoly and product quality," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 18(2), pages 301-317, August.
    4. Kim, Moshe & Kliger, Doron & Vale, Bent, 2003. "Estimating switching costs: the case of banking," Journal of Financial Intermediation, Elsevier, vol. 12(1), pages 25-56, January.
    5. von Weizsacker, C Christian, 1984. "The Costs of Substitution," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 52(5), pages 1085-1116, September.
    6. Minjung Park, 2005. "The Economic Impact of Wireless Number Portability," Discussion Papers 04-017, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
    7. Timothy H. Hannan, 2008. "Consumer switching costs and firm pricing: evidence from bank pricing of deposit accounts," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2008-32, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    8. Jean-Charles Rochet & Lars A. Stole, 2002. "Nonlinear Pricing with Random Participation," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 69(1), pages 277-311.
    9. Yongmin Chen, 1997. "Paying Customers to Switch," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 6(4), pages 877-897, December.
    10. Beggs, Alan & Klemperer, Paul, 1990. "Multi-Period Competition with Switching Costs," CEPR Discussion Papers 436, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    11. Hartmann, Wesley R. & Viard, V. Brian, 2007. "Do Frequency Reward Programs Create Switching Costs? A Dynamic Structural Analysis of Demand in a Reward Program," Research Papers 1941r, Stanford University, Graduate School of Business.
    12. Lee, Jongsu & Kim, Yeonbae & Lee, Jeong-Dong & Park, Yuri, 2006. "Estimating the extent of potential competition in the Korean mobile telecommunications market: Switching costs and number portability," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 24(1), pages 107-124, January.
    13. Paul Klemperer, 1987. "The Competitiveness of Markets with Switching Costs," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 18(1), pages 138-150, Spring.
    14. Meghan R. Busse & Marc Rysman, 2001. "Competition and Price Discrimination in Yellow Pages Advertising," Yale School of Management Working Papers ysm207, Yale School of Management.
    15. Stole, Lars A, 1995. "Nonlinear Pricing and Oligopoly," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 4(4), pages 529-62, Winter.
    16. Stole, Lars A., 2007. "Price Discrimination and Competition," Handbook of Industrial Organization, Elsevier.
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