waterbed effect Archives


Christoph Stork and Alison Gillwald have been engaged with the real-world problem of high mobile termination rates in Southern Africa for several years. Perhaps the earliest intervention was with the Namibian Communication Commission in 2009. Then there were repeated engagements in South Africa. We know, from our experience, that policy engagement does not leave a lot of time for academic publication. But it’s not that our colleagues did not try to publish in academic journals.
The European Union was the only regional grouping taking concerted action to curb the exploitation of the customers of others by operators. But all this time, their actions had effects only within Europe. Now they’re capping roaming costs overall. This will cause European operators to actually negotiate for lower rates from those from whom they purchase roaming services. According to the waterbed theory (which has no foundation in fact, but is trotted out every time operators see some monopoly niche being attacked), this should result in higher roaming costs for the rest of us, non-Europeans.