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Auction Design and Tacit Collusion in FCC Spectrum Auctions

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  • Patrick Bajari
  • Jungwon Yeo
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    Abstract

    The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has used auctions to award spectrum since 1994. During this time period, the FCC has experimented with a variety of auctions rules including click box bidding and anonymous bidding. These rule changes make the actions of bidders less visible during the auction and also limit the set of bids which can be submitted by a bidder during a particular round. Economic theory suggests that tacit collusion may be more difficult as a result. We examine this proposition using data from 4 auctions: the PCS C Block, Auction 35, the Advanced Wireless Service auction and the 700 Mhz auction. We examine the frequency of jump bids, retaliatory bids and straightforward bids across these auctions. While this simple descriptive exercise has a number of limitations, the data suggests that these rule changes did limit firms' ability to tacitly collude.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 14441.

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    Date of creation: Oct 2008
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    Publication status: published as Bajari, Patrick & Yeo, Jungwon, 2009. "Auction design and tacit collusion in FCC spectrum auctions," Information Economics and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 21(2), pages 90-100, June.
    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14441

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    1. Peter Cramton & Jesse Schwartz, 2000. "Collusive Bidding in the FCC Spectrum Auctions," Econometric Society World Congress 2000 Contributed Papers 1210, Econometric Society.
    2. Paul Milgrom, . "Putting Auction Theory to Work: The Simultaneous Ascending Auction," Working Papers 98002, Stanford University, Department of Economics.
    3. Lawrence M. Ausubel & Peter Cramton, 1995. "Demand Reduction and Inefficiency in Multi-Unit Auctions," Papers of Peter Cramton 98wpdr, University of Maryland, Department of Economics - Peter Cramton, revised 22 Jul 2002.
    4. Sandro Brusco & Giuseppe Lopomo, 2004. "Collusion via Signalling in Simultaneous Ascending Bid Auctions with Heterogeneous Objects, with and without Complementarities," Levine's Bibliography 122247000000000385, UCLA Department of Economics.
    5. Green, Edward J. & Porter, Robert H., 1982. "Noncooperative Collusion Under Imperfect Price Information," Working Papers 367, California Institute of Technology, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences.
    6. Peter Cramton & Jesse Schwartz, 2000. "Collusive Bidding: Lessons from the FCC Spectrum Auctions," Papers of Peter Cramton 00jre, University of Maryland, Department of Economics - Peter Cramton, revised 09 Mar 1999.
    7. Milgrom,Paul, 2004. "Putting Auction Theory to Work," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521536721, April.
    8. Patrick Bajari & Jeremy T. Fox, 2005. "Measuring the Efficiency of an FCC Spectrum Auction," NBER Working Papers 11671, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Lawrence M. Ausubel & Peter Cramton & R. Preston McAfee & John McMillan, 1998. "Synergies in Wireless Telephony: Evidence from the Broadband PCS Auctions," Papers of Peter Cramton 97jems, University of Maryland, Department of Economics - Peter Cramton, revised 09 Jun 1998.
    10. Avery, Christopher, 1998. "Strategic Jump Bidding in English Auctions," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 65(2), pages 185-210, April.
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