Incentive Regulation and the Cost Structure of the Local Telephone Exchange Network
Jean-Jacques Laffont and
Journal of Regulatory Economics, 1997, vol. 12, issue 1, 5-25
This paper combines an engineering process model of the cost of local exchange telecommunications firms with an analytical model of optimal incentive regulation (with ex post cost observability), to study empirically the properties of the optimal regulatory mechanism. Relying on detailed properties of the cost function, we examine three issues: (i) the extent of natural monopoly when informational rents associated with regulation are taken into account; (ii) the extent of incentive correction, which expresses the divergence of pricing under the optimal mechanism from optimal pricing under complete information; (iii) the implementation of optimal regulation through a menu of linear contracts. Our findings are that, for fixed territory, strong economies of scale allow local exchange telecommunications to retain monopoly characteristics even when the (informational) costs of regulation are properly accounted for, the incentive correction term is small in magnitude, and that optimal regulation can be well approximated through relatively simple linear contracts. Copyright 1997 by Kluwer Academic Publishers
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