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Friday, September 20 • 4:10pm - 4:43pm
The Impact of Spectrum Prices on Consumers

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The radio spectrum that governments license to mobile operators is central to the quality and affordability of mobile broadband services. However, some government policies – inadvertently or not – result in high prices being paid to access spectrum. This empirical study assesses whether high spectrum prices, and other aspects of spectrum management, had an impact on consumer welfare in 64 countries during the 2010-2017 period. Our empirical strategy isolates the impact of spectrum pricing on consumer outcomes by applying an instrumental variable model and also by considering the ‘affordability’ of spectrum as a percentage of operator revenues. We find strong evidence that higher spectrum prices cause negative consumer outcomes, including lower coverage levels and slower data speeds. These findings have important ramifications for governments and regulators – particularly those betting on 4G and 5G as enablers of economic growth and sustainable development. 


Kelly O'Keefe

U.S. State Department

avatar for Pau Castells

Pau Castells

Head of Economic Analysis, GSMA
avatar for Kalvin Bahia

Kalvin Bahia

Principal Economist, GSMA
Working as an Economist in GSMA Intelligence, I am responsible for producing economic and statistical analysis on regulation, competition, spectrum and development topics. Before joining the GSMA, I worked as a competition and regulatory economist at the UK telecoms regulator (Ofcom... Read More →

Friday September 20, 2019 4:10pm - 4:43pm PDT
Y115 4300 Nebraska Ave, Washington, DC