Contracts As Investment Barriers In Unlicensed Spectrum

Yining Zhu Northwestern University, USA
Randall A Berry Northwestern University, USA


By not requiring expensive licenses, unlicensed spectrum lowers the barriers for firms to offer wireless services. However, incumbent firms may still try to erect other entry barriers. For example, recent work has highlighted how customer contracts may be used as one such barrier by penalizing customers for switching to a new entrant. However, this work did not account for another potential benefit of unlicensed spectrum, having access to this open resource may incentivize entrants to invest in new and potentially better technology. This paper studies the interaction of contracts and the incentives of firms to invest in developing new technology. We use a game theoretic model to study this and characterize the effect of contracts on economic welfare. The role of subsidies or taxes by a social planner is also considered.

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