Discussion Papers

Christoph Ferdinand

Ökonomische und regulatorische Aspekte der gemeinsamen Schalternutzung: Das Flächendeckungsgebot

Nr. 86 / Mai 1992 Summary The postal reform in Germany led to the split of the former Deutsche Bundespost into three independently operating companies, namely DBP Telekom (telecommunications services), DBP Postdienst (postal services), and DBP Postbank (financial services). The establishment of regulation as a distinct function and the Ministry for Posts and Telecommunications as the regulatory body has mitigated the immediate political influence on business operations. Both developments have had a direct impact on the counters network run by DBP Postdienst. It follows that the pricing of the counter network has become an issue to be settled between independent companies by some form of contractual agreement. Furthermore, the regulator has to seek for effective ways to ensure the achievment of his political aims without unduly restraining the entrepreneurial initiative of the companies. Our work on economic and regulatory issues of the counter network resulted in three discussion papers. While this paper analyses regulatory issues, a second deals with the pricing of the counter network, and the third is concerned with legal matters. The postal law contains an obligation to offer certain services covering the whole territory. Workable competition provides the customers with products in sufficient quantities and qualities. Market failure, in turn, could justify regulatory intervention in the market place. Letter service being protected by a legal monopoly has the biggest potential for market failure. Another reason for market intervention could be the achievement of political goals such as serving socially disadvantaged persons or to develop less attractive regions. The fulfillment of the regulatory goals will probably be achieved without a need for further regulatory intervention or any obligations for the counter network if the regulator permits the introduction of privately run post offices. The substitution of small post offices by agencies will make it possible for the Postdienst to maintain a dense and efficient network that at the same time meets the obligation to serve the whole territory. Alternatively, Postdienst could broaden its product range, trying thereby to improve the financial result of its entirely state owned network. This turns out to be a much riskier and less promising strategy.

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