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Mobile wholesale and retail price interplay: The somewhat contrary case of South Africa in Africa


  • Stork, Christoph
  • Gillwald, Alison


This paper analyses the link between termination rate reductions and retail prices. It draws on in-depth case studies of South Africa, Namibia and Kenya where regulators have reduced termination rates towards the cost of an efficient operator. To varying degrees these have all led to lower retail prices and a significant market expansion. While both Namibia and Kenya, experienced significant retail price reduction following substantial termination rate reductions, the case of South Africa demonstrates that termination rate reductions are not automatically passed through to consumers. In South Africa only the second reduction in March 2012 allowed smaller operators to reduce their off-net prices to a level could tempt subscribers from dominant operators to switch. The case studies confirm that retail prices do not go up in response to termination rates going down, in CPNP (calling-party's-network-pays) markets as contended by dominant mobile operators. This is also in contrast to a body of academic literature stating that termination rates and mobile retail prices constitute a two-sided market and that termination rate reductions will lead to a so called waterbed effect. This study draws on a database of all prepaid products available in 46 African countries which were collected monthly for the period January 2011 to June 2012. The OECD price basket methodology is used to compare prices between countries and between operators. In-depth face-to-face interviews on termination rate regulations were also held with regulators in Kenya, Namibia and South Africa. The analysis is further supplemented with an analysis of audited financial statements of dominant operators in each market, namely Vodacom South Africa, MTN South Africa, Telkom South Africa, MTC2 in Namibia, and Safaricom in Kenya.

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  • Stork, Christoph & Gillwald, Alison, 2012. "Mobile wholesale and retail price interplay: The somewhat contrary case of South Africa in Africa," 19th ITS Biennial Conference, Bangkok 2012: Moving Forward with Future Technologies - Opening a Platform for All 72549, International Telecommunications Society (ITS).
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:itsb12:72549

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Christos Genakos & Tommaso Valletti, 2011. "Testing The “Waterbed” Effect In Mobile Telephony," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 9(6), pages 1114-1142, December.
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    Mobile termination rates; retail prices; Waterbed effect; two-sided markets; South Africa; Kenya; Namibia;

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