DP16111 Market Structure, Investment and Technical Efficiencies in Mobile Telecommunications

Author(s): Jonathan Elliott, Georges V. Houngbonon, Marc Ivaldi, Paul Scott
Publication Date: May 2021
Date Revised: July 2021
Keyword(s): Antitrust Policy, Endogenous quality, infrastructure, market structure, Mobile telecommunications, queuing, scale efficiency
JEL(s): D21, D22, L13, L40
Programme Areas: Industrial Organization
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=16111

We develop a model of competition in prices and infrastructural investment among mobile network providers. Market shares and service quality (download speed) are simultaneously determined, for demand affects the network load just as delivered quality affects consumer demand. While consolidation typically has adverse impacts on consumer surplus, economies of scale (which we derive from physical principles) push in the other direction, and we find that consumer surplus is maximized at a moderate number of firms, and that the optimal number of firms is higher for lower income consumers. Our modeling framework allows us to quantify the marginal social value of allocating more spectrum to mobile telecommunications, finding it is roughly five times an individual firm's willingness to pay for a marginal unit of spectrum.