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2012 | 5(7) | 125-141

Article title

Universal Service Obligation and Loyalty Effects: An Agent-Based Modelling Approach


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In network industries, a Universal Service Obligation (USO) is often seen as a burden on an incumbent, which requires compensation for the net cost of such service provision. This paper estimates the effects of consumer loyalty as an intangible benefit of USO in the postal sector. In doing so, the agent-based modelling (ABM) approach is applied, which makes it possible to model the behaviour of boundedly rational consumers and is thus particularly appropriate for taking into account intangibles considerations. The analysis shows that loyalty is crucial to whether the USO uniform pricing constraint results in loss-making or profitability. Under certain conditions and in the presence of a loyalty parameter, uniform pricing gives a USO provider an advantage, when the size of the rural area is sufficiently big and a disadvantage, if its size is too small. This finding is counterintuitive as USO providers in countries with sparsely populated areas are typically expected to incur a significant net cost of USO.
L’obligation de service universel (USO) est souvent perçu par les industries de réseau comme un charge sur le fournisseur historique ce qui nécessite une compensation pour le coût net d’un tel fourniture de service. Cet article évalue les effets de la fidélité des consommateurs comme un avantage intangible de l’USO dans le secteur postal. Par cela, la modélisation multi-agents (GPA) est appliquée, ce qui permet de modéliser le comportement des consommateurs à rationalité limitée et qui est donc particulièrement approprié pour la prise en compte des considérations intangibles. L’analyse montre que la fidélité est essentielle pour savoir si la contrainte de prix uniforme de l’USO aboutit à la perte de décision ou de rentabilité. Sous certaines conditions et en présence d'un paramètre de fidélité, la tarification uniforme donne à un fournisseur de l’USO un avantage, lorsque la taille de la zone rurale est suffisament grande et un inconvénient, lorsque sa taille est trop petite. Ce résultat est contre-intuitif, car on attend généralement que les fournisseurs de l’USO dans les pays ayant des zones peu peuplées encourent un coût net important de l’USO.





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