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The FCC Spectrum Auctions: An Early Assessment

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Abstract

This paper analyzes six spectrum auctions conducted by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) from July 1994 to May 1996. These auctions were simultaneous multiple-round auctions in which collections of licenses were auctioned simultaneously. This auction form proved remarkably successful. Similar items sold for similar prices and bidders successfully formed efficient aggregations of licenses. Bidding behavior differed substantially in the auctions. The extent of bidder competition and price uncertainty played an important role in determining behavior. Bidding credits and installment payments also played a major role in several of the auctions.

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File URL: http://www.cramton.umd.edu/papers1995-1999/97jems-fcc-spectrum-auctions.pdf
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University of Maryland, Department of Economics - Peter Cramton in its series Papers of Peter Cramton with number 97jemsfcc.

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Length: 65 pages
Date of creation: 1997
Date of revision: 12 Jul 1998
Publication status: Published in Journal of Economics and Management Strategy, 6:3, Fall 1997, pages 431-495. Reprinted in Donald L. Alexander, Telecommunications Policy, Chapter 5, Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers, 75-130, 1997.
Handle: RePEc:pcc:pccumd:97jemsfcc

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Postal: Economics Department, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742-7211
Phone: (202) 318-0520
Fax: (202) 318-0520
Web page: http://www.cramton.umd.edu

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Keywords: Auctions; Spectrum Auctions; Multiple-Round Auctions; Efficiency;

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References

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  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Ashenfelter, Orley, 1989. "How Auctions Work for Wine and Art," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 3(3), pages 23-36, Summer.
  4. J. Riley & E. Maskin, 1981. "Optimal Auctions with Risk Averse Buyers," Working papers 311, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  5. Cramton, Peter C, 1995. "Money Out of Thin Air: The Nationwide Narrowband PCS Auction," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 4(2), pages 267-343, Summer.
  6. 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.
  7. McAfee, R Preston & McMillan, John, 1987. "Auctions and Bidding," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 25(2), pages 699-738, June.
  8. Ian Ayres & Peter Cramton, 1996. "Deficit Reduction Through Diversity: How Affirmative Action at the FCC Increased Auction Competition," Papers of Peter Cramton 96slr, University of Maryland, Department of Economics - Peter Cramton, revised 09 Jun 1998.
  9. McAfee R. Preston & Vincent Daniel, 1993. "The Declining Price Anomaly," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 60(1), pages 191-212, June.
  10. Richard Engelbrecht-Wiggans & Charles M. Kahn, 1998. "Multi-unit auctions with uniform prices," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 12(2), pages 227-258.
  11. Chakravorti, Bhaskar, et al, 1995. "Auctioning the Airwaves: The Contest for Broadband PCS Spectrum," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 4(2), pages 345-73, Summer.
  12. Maskin, Eric & Riley, John, 2000. "Asymmetric Auctions," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 67(3), pages 413-38, July.
  13. Jeffrey S. Banks & John O. Ledyard & David P. Porter, 1989. "Allocating Uncertain and Unresponsive Resources: An Experimental Approach," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 20(1), pages 1-25, Spring.
  14. John McMillan, 1994. "Selling Spectrum Rights," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 8(3), pages 145-162, Summer.
  15. Steven A. Matthews, 1981. "Selling to Risk Averse Buyers with Unobservable Tastes," Discussion Papers 480S, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  16. R. Preston McAfee & John McMillan, 1996. "Analyzing the Airwaves Auction," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 10(1), pages 159-175, Winter.
  17. Milgrom, Paul R & Weber, Robert J, 1982. "A Theory of Auctions and Competitive Bidding," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(5), pages 1089-1122, September.
  18. Paul R. Milgrom, 1985. "Auction Theory," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 779, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  19. Michael H. Rothkopf & Aleksandar Peke\v{c} & Ronald M. Harstad, 1998. "Computationally Manageable Combinational Auctions," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 44(8), pages 1131-1147, August.
  20. 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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