Discussion Papers

Bernd Ickenroth

Die Finanzierung des Universaldienstes im Wettbewerb - Erfahrungen im Ausland und Implikationen für Deutschland
Nr. 154 / November 1995

At 1 January 1998 the telecommunications markets in most countries of the European Union and therefore also in Germany will be completely liberalised. This gives rise to the question how the financing of universal service cost should be guaranteed if there is competition and only one network operator in most cases this will still be the incumbent is subject to a universal service obligation. In this case it can be expected that competition reduces the incumbent's ability to finance any deficit arising out of the obligation by means of internal subsidisation.

Two alternative methods of financing are analysed and discussed in this study. One method is the payment of "access charges". This means that a component of the interconnection charge which a competitor has to pay to the universal service provider serves for financing the universal service cost. The alternative is the establishment of a "universal service fund". It will be funded by competing providers normally in relation to their market share.

The analysis of theoretical models of interconnection pricing gives little support for the access charge solution. It is shown that a combination of cost oriented interconnection charges and, if necessary, the establishment of a universal service fund is the more efficient as well as the more practical approach. The experience in three countries with voice telephony and network competition (UK, USA, Australia) confirms this result: In the UK it was decided to abolish the access charge regime and to implement a univer-sal service fund and in the USA access charges are increasingly subject to criticism. In Australia, a universal service fund was introduced from the beginning.

Against the background of the theoretical analysis and the international experience implications are derived with regard to the regulatory situation in Germany. One can conclude that the approach of the Federal Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications as contained in the draft telecommunications law, especially with regard to its vote for the universal service fund and implicitly against the access charge solution, is mainly consistent with the results of this study.

Only German language version available.

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