Discussion Papers

Hasan Alkas

Entwicklungen und regulierungspolitische Auswirkungen der Fix-Mobil Integration
Nr. 210 / Dezember 2000

Summary

In this study fixed-mobile integrated services, that combine features of the fixed network service and the cellular service, are analysed. From the fixed network domain fixed-mobile integrated services take the cheaper rates of calls. From the cellular domain the feature of a potential accessibility at a multitude of different locations is taken. In this context the process is described as fixed-mobile integration (FMI), rather than fixed-mobile convergence, because a real convergence is not immediately necessary.

As in modern telecommunications systems services are logically separated from the specifics of the underlying network infrastructure, fixed-mobile integrated services are also not tied to a specific kind of network. Theoretically, they can be introduced and operated exclusively on the basis of fixed network infrastructure as well as on the basis of cellular infrastructure. However, a real FMI occurs when elements of both networks are combined. The accessibility feature can be realised by two ways: either by simple call diversion or by intelligent mobility management systems.

Operators with extensively built-out fixed and mobile networks have more possibilities with regard to selecting the appropriate network solution. However, this advantage can be compensated if third-party-access by interconnection is regulatory mandated or national roaming agreements are feasible. The realisation of the accessibility feature by simple call diversion or the intelligent solution bears no new technical challenges. In Germany such services are offered among others by VIAG Interkom known as "Genion" (homezone-product) or by the incumbent Deutsche Telekom known as T-ISDN-Mobile (fix and mobile service). However, homezone-products can not provide all features of fixed and mobile services.

For a regulatory adjustment with regard to FMI a clear definition of the relevant markets is necessary. This can be done, by analysing the response of customers to price movements. A clear definition of relevant markets is hardly possible in this early stage of the product life cycle and the low market penetration rates of fixed-mobile services.

The paper examines whether FMI requires a modification of the TKG with regard to universal services, interconnection, licensing procedures and price regulation. For a network-independent treatment of fixed-mobile services, a important question is, whether a strict separation between mobile services and voice telephony as defined in the TKG is still meaningful.

FMI is offered to a large extent by bundling several services together, which means that competitors offering only parts of the combined service are not able to survive against multiproduct firms. The possibility of bundling and the control of the essential infrastructure provides such firms a strategic advantage. Dominant firms can leverage their market power from markets without competition to the competitive market to influence competitors. Leveraging can take place also under evasion of the different regulatory intensities in the respective markets. In this context regulation with special attention to price discrimination, predatory pricing, price squeezing and cross subsidisation is relevant.

Only German language version available.

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