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The Biggest Auction Ever: The Sale of the British 3G Telecom Licences

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  • Binmore, Kenneth
  • Klemperer, Paul

Abstract

This paper reviews the part played by economists in organizing the British third-generation mobile-phone licence auction that concluded on 27 April 2000. It raised £22½ billion ($34 billion or 2½ % of GNP) and was widely described at the time as the biggest auction ever. We discuss the merits of auctions versus ‘beauty contests’, the aims of the auction, the problems we faced, the auction designs we considered, and the mistakes that were made.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 3214.

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Date of creation: Feb 2002
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:3214

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Keywords: 3G; auctions; Bidding; mobile phones; spectrum auctions; telecommunications; UMTS;

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References

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  3. Jeremy Bulow & Paul Klemperer, 2002. "Prices and the Winner's Curse," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 33(1), pages 1-21, Spring.
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  6. Klemperer, Paul, 2002. "How (not) to run auctions: The European 3G telecom auctions," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 46(4-5), pages 829-845, May.
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  9. ehiel, Philippe & Benny Moldovanu & Ennio Stacchetti, 1994. "How (not) to sell nuclear weapons," Discussion Paper Serie B 288, University of Bonn, Germany.
  10. Paul Klemperer, 1997. "Auctions with Almost Common Values: The Wallet Game and its Applications," Economics Series Working Papers 1998-W03, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  11. Plott, Charles R. & Salmon, Timothy C., 2004. "The simultaneous, ascending auction: dynamics of price adjustment in experiments and in the UK3G spectrum auction," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 53(3), pages 353-383, March.
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  14. Cramton, Peter & Schwartz, Jesse A, 2000. "Collusive Bidding: Lessons from the FCC Spectrum Auctions," Journal of Regulatory Economics, Springer, vol. 17(3), pages 229-52, May.
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  16. Gilbert, Richard & Klemperer, Paul, 1993. "An Equilibrium Theory of Rationing," CEPR Discussion Papers 805, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  17. Abbink, Klaus & Irlenbusch, Bernd & Pezanis-Christou, Paul & Rockenbach, Bettina & Sadrieh, Abdolkarim & Selten, Reinhard, 2005. "An experimental test of design alternatives for the British 3G/UMTS auction," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 49(2), pages 505-530, February.
  18. Ballard, Charles L & Shoven, John B & Whalley, John, 1985. "General Equilibrium Computations of the Marginal Welfare Costs of Taxes in the United States," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(1), pages 128-38, March.
  19. Milgrom, Paul R & Weber, Robert J, 1982. "A Theory of Auctions and Competitive Bidding," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(5), pages 1089-1122, September.
  20. Wruck, Karen Hopper, 1994. "Financial policy, internal control, and performance Sealed Air Corporation's leveraged special dividend," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 36(2), pages 157-192, October.
  21. Marco Pagnozzi, 2003. "Sorry Winners," CSEF Working Papers 108, Centre for Studies in Economics and Finance (CSEF), University of Naples, Italy, revised 09 May 2007.
  22. John Cable & Andrew Henley & Kevin Holland, 2002. "Pot of gold or winner's curse? An event study of the auctions of 3G mobile telephone licences in the UK," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 23(4), pages 447-462, December.
  23. Sandro Brusco & Giuseppe Lopomo, 1999. "Collusion via Signalling in Open Ascending Auctions with Multiple Objects and Complementarities," Working Papers 99-05, New York University, Leonard N. Stern School of Business, Department of Economics.
  24. Börgers, Tilman & Dustmann, Christian, 2001. "Strange Bids: Bidding Behaviour in the United Kingdom's Third Generation Spectrum Auction," CEPR Discussion Papers 3072, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  25. Richard Engelbrecht-Wiggans & Charles M. Kahn, 2005. "Low-Revenue Equilibria in Simultaneous Ascending-Bid Auctions," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 51(3), pages 508-518, March.
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