DP6866 Tariff-Mediated Network Externalities: Is Regulatory Intervention Any Good?

Author(s): Steffen Hoernig
Publication Date: June 2008
Keyword(s): Network competition, on/off-net differentials, retail price controls, termination fees
JEL(s): L13, L51, L96
Programme Areas: Industrial Organization
Link to this Page: www.cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=6866

Mobile phone networks' practice of charging higher prices for off-net than for on-net calls has been pinpointed as the source of two competition problems: underprovision of calls and permanent disadvantages for small networks. We consider these allegations and four different remedies: limiting on/off-net differentials or off-net margins, lower termination fees, and asymmetric termination fees. In all cases a trade-off has to be made between efficiency and networks' profits on the one hand, and consumer surplus on the other. Indeed, the total welfare effects of regulating on/off-net differentials are ambiguous and depend on demand characteristics.