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Quality-adjusted international price comparisons of mobile telecommunications services

Seong Hun Yun, Yongjae Kim and Minki Kim

Telecommunications Policy, 2019, vol. 43, issue 4, 339-352

Abstract: Many countries' policymakers have conducted international price comparisons of mobile telecommunications services to prevent service operators from overcharging subscribers. However, those comparisons have become more complicated because of the escalation in service usage and telecommunications expenditures spurred by the proliferation of smartphones and broadband LTE wireless internet service networks. The basket-based methodologies that have been widely used for international price comparisons are also limited—first, because the baskets for comparison may not be representative of actual service usage patterns in some countries; second, because they are difficult to apply to highly differentiated service plans due to the significant increase in wireless internet service usage and widely used plans with unlimited voice call service and SMS/MMS; and third, because they cannot consider the quality of service, such as upload and download speed in various service environments, at all. As an alternative, this paper proposes a hedonic pricing model that accounts for service quality and its variation in potentially disruptive environments, as well as fixed charge for a mobile phone additional to the price of service plans. The model was used to derive quality-adjusted price indices of mobile telecommunications services for twelve cities in ten countries with broadband LTE wireless internet service. The empirical results confirmed that the price index of each city varied significantly across the specifications,—both within the United States and internationally—depending on whether the model was constructed to reflect service quality and its variation on roads, in buildings, and in subways. The price index of each city also varied depending on whether the subsidized price of a mobile phone was considered part of the monthly price of a service plan. These results have important implications for policymakers seeking to understand the ultimate level of mobile telecommunication service prices for their country in a global context.

Keywords: Quality-adjusted price index; Mobile telecommunications services; Hedonic pricing model (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2019
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Handle: RePEc:eee:telpol:v:43:y:2019:i:4:p:339-352