Advances in Regulatory Economics series
Edited by Michael A. Crew and Paul R. Kleindorfer
Chapter 13: Postcodes in Competitive Postal Markets: Is There a Case for Regulation?
Alex Dieke and Sonja Schölermann 1. INTRODUCTION In most countries, postcodes had been developed by postal administrations (incumbent postal operators) long before postal markets were exposed to competition. Postcodes were – and continue to be – largely regarded as internal operational systems and their designs reﬂect the operational necessities of the incumbent postal operator. However, postcode systems exhibit signiﬁcant spillovers (external eﬀects). For example, changing postcodes cause transaction costs for anybody that uses them, including senders and receivers. In addition, they aﬀect many users outside the postal sector that, for example, use postcodes to specify unique addresses for automobile navigation systems. In competitive postal markets, alternative delivery services use the public postcode systems as well since the postcode is typically part of the address on any postal item. When telecommunications markets were liberalized, responsibility for numbering (allocating access line numbers) was typically handed over to sector regulators. Independent numbering was regarded a prerequisite for competition in the local loop. Inspired by this (possible) analogy to telecommunications markets, this chapter investigates whether operation of the postcode system gives incumbents the opportunity to discriminate its competitors. In October 2006, the European Commission has presented a proposal for a new Postal Directive, which stipulates that Whenever necessary to protect the interest of users and/or to promote eﬀective competition, and in the light of national conditions, Member States shall ensure that transparent and nondiscriminatory access conditions are available to the following elements of postal infrastructure or services: postcode system, address...
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