Discussion Papers

Henrik Hermann

Wettbewerbsstrategien alternativer Telekommunikationsunternehmen in Deutschland
Nr. 185 / Mai 1998
(no longer available


The aim of the paper is to analyze the competitive strategies of the alternative carriers in the German telecommunications market. For this purpose three different groups of players are defined in function of their respective resource portfolio, namely (1) national and regional network operators, (2) local network operators and (3) service providers. From a theoretical point of view the analysis is based on Porter’s paradigm of generic competitive strategies on the one hand and the resource based view on the other.

Regarding the individual resources required for the provision of telecommunications services it is shown from a resource based perspective, that they deliver competitive advantage of different quality. From this it follows from a theoretical point of view, that the different classes of players - depending on their respective resource portfolios - are likely to follow different competitive strategies. Moreover it will be argued, that the sustainability of the respective competitive advantage plays a crucial role. Sustainability refers to the ability of competitors to duplicate the resource-based competitive advantage. Here it is shown, that the sustainability is mainly endangered by the emergence of input markets, on which the resources can be purchased.

Since the different classes of players dispose of different resource portfolios and hence also have different "missing links" in their respective value chain of service production and distribution it is argued, that the relative competitive position of the players in the different classes depends on (1) the sustainability of the own resource portfolio and (2) the availability of the "missing link"-resources on input markets.

The empirical investigations based on interviews undertaken with representatives of major alternative carriers show, however, that virtually all of the alternative carriers aim for hybrid strategies in virtually all the product and customer segments. From this it is concluded, that all of these companies have very different assumptions regarding the sustainability of the different resources. More precisely it is revealed, that every player assumes its own competitive advantages to be sustainable, while those of the others are not.

Applying the results derived from the resource-based paradigm also to a market structure analysis the following conclusions are drawn: Due to the alternative carriers’ unrealistic assumptions regarding the future development of their respective market shares a concentration process may be expected. The position of the individual company in this concentration process will be mainly determined by the value of its individual resources. On the basis of the theoretical results a scenario is developed, which predicts a horizontal concentration process in the value chain segment of network operations and a vertical disintegration between network operations and service provision. Regarding the future of players with network resources in the local loop it is argued, that here the danger of vertical integration through acquisition by long distance network operators exists, if the local loop as a resource is devaluated by regulatory measures regarding interconnection pricing

Only German language version available.

Discussion Paper is no longer available.

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