Thursday, August 27, 2009
Posted by D. Daniel Sokol
ABSTRACT: This paper studies competition in a network industry with a stylized two layered network structure, and examines: (i) price and connectivity incentives of the upstream networks, and (ii) incentives for vertical integration between an upstream network provider and a downstream firm. The main result of this paper is that vertical integration occurs only if the initial installed-base difference between the upstream networks is sufficiently small, and in that case, industry is configured with two vertically integrated networks, which yields highest incentives to invest in quality of interconnection. When the installed-base difference is sufficiently large, there is no integration in the industry, and neither of the firms have an incentive to invest in quality of interconnection. An industry configuration in which only the large network integrates and excludes (or raises cost of) its downstream rival does not appear as an equilibrium outcome: in the presence of a large asymmetry between the networks, when quality of interconnection is a strategic variable, the large network can exercise a substantial market power without vertical integration. Therefore, a vertically separated industry structure does not necessarily yield procompetitive outcomes.