Optimal Three-Part Tariff Plans
37 Pages Posted: 11 May 2015 Last revised: 27 Dec 2016
Date Written: December 1, 2016
Service providers, such as cell phone carriers, often offer three-part tariff plans that consist of three levers: A fixed fee, an allowance of free units, and a price per each unit above the allowance. In previous studies the optimal three-part tariff contract was characterized using the standard first-order conditions approach. Because this optimization problem is non-smooth, however, it could only be solved in a few simple cases. In this study we employ a different methodology which is based on obtaining a global bound for the firm profit, and then showing that this bound is attained by the optimal plan. This approach allows us to explicitly calculate the optimal three-part tariff plan under quite general conditions, where consumers are strategic, they have a general utility function, they experience psychological costs when they exceed the number of free units, they have deterministic or stochastic consumption rates, they are homogeneous or heterogeneous, and the firm costs are fixed or depend on the usage level.
Keywords: non-linear pricing; three-part tariff; non-smooth optimization
JEL Classification: C61, L8, L9, M31, D4
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation