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The Efficiency of the FCC Spectrum Auctions

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Abstract

From July 1994 to July 1996, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) conducted nine spectrum auctions, raising about $20 billion for the U.S. Treasury. The auctions assigned thousands of licenses to hundreds of firms. Were the auctions efficient? Did they award the licenses to the firms best able to turn the spectrum into valuable services for onsumers? There is substantial evidence that the FCC's simultaneous ascending auction worked well. It raised large revenues. It revealed critical information in the process of bidding and gave bidders the flexibility to adjust strategies in response to new information. As a result, similar licenses sold for similar prices, and bidders were able to piece together sensible sets of licenses.

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File URL: http://www.cramton.umd.edu/papers1995-1999/98jle-efficiency-of-the-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 98jlefcc.

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Length: 11 pages
Date of creation: 27 Jul 1998
Date of revision: 27 Jul 1998
Publication status: Published in Journal of Law and Economics, 41:2, October 1998, pages 727-736.
Handle: RePEc:pcc:pccumd:98jlefcc

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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; Multiple-Item Auctions; Spectrum Auctions;

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References

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  1. Lawrence M. Ausubel & Peter Cramton & R. Preston McAfee & John McMillan, 1997. "Synergies in Wireless Telephony: Evidence from the Broadband PCS Auctions," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 6(3), pages 497-527, 09.
  2. 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.
  3. Milgrom, Paul R & Weber, Robert J, 1982. "A Theory of Auctions and Competitive Bidding," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(5), pages 1089-1122, September.
  4. Richard Engelbrecht-Wiggans & Charles M. Kahn, 1998. "Multi-unit auctions with uniform prices," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 12(2), pages 227-258.
  5. Peter Cramton, 1997. "The FCC Spectrum Auctions: An Early Assessment," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 6(3), pages 431-495, 09.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  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.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Emiel Maasland & Sander Onderstal, 2006. "Going, Going, Gone! A Swift Tour of Auction Theory and Its Applications," De Economist, Springer, vol. 154(3), pages 481-481, September.
  2. White, Lawrence J., 2006. "The Fishery as a Watery Commons: Lessons from the Experiences of Other Public Policy Areas for U.S. Fisheries Policy," Working paper 439, Regulation2point0.
  3. John Hoven, 2007. "Anticompetitive Restraints on Public Charter Schools," EAG Competition Advocacy Papers 200711, Department of Justice, Antitrust Division.
  4. Longstaff, Francis A & Han, Bing & Merrill, Craig, 2004. "Revenue Implications of Multi-Item Multi-Unit Auction Designs: Empirical Evidence from the U.S. Treasury Buyback Auctions," University of California at Los Angeles, Anderson Graduate School of Management qt7344v866, Anderson Graduate School of Management, UCLA.
  5. Heide Coenen & Manfred J. Holler & Esko Niskanen, 2000. "5th Helsinki Workshop on Standardization and Networks, 13-14 August, 2000," Discussion Papers 243, Government Institute for Economic Research Finland (VATT).
  6. Tomomi Tanaka, 2005. "Resource allocation with spatial externalities: Experiments on land consolidation," Experimental 0511004, EconWPA.
  7. Florian Englmaier & Pablo Guillen & Loreto Llorente & Sander Onderstal & Rupert Sausgruber, 2006. "The Chopstick Auction: A Study of the Exposure Problem in Multi-Unit Auctions," CESifo Working Paper Series 1782, CESifo Group Munich.
  8. Onderstal, A.M., 2002. "The Chopstick Auction," Discussion Paper 2002-35, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
  9. Matejka, M. & Onderstal, A.M. & De Waegenaere, A.M.B., 2002. "The Effectiveness of Caps on Political Lobbying," Discussion Paper 2002-44, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
  10. Griffin, Robert, 2013. "Auction designs for allocating wind energy leases on the U.S. outer continentalshelf," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 56(C), pages 603-611.
  11. W. Tom Whalen & Dennis W. Carlton & Ken Heyer & Oliver Richard, 2007. "Proposal For A Market-Based Solution to Airport Delays," EAG Discussions Papers 200714, Department of Justice, Antitrust Division.
  12. Andrés Pereyra, 2001. "Subasta de telefonía móvil: ¿una experiencia inconclusa en Uruguay?," Documentos de Trabajo (working papers) 0302, Department of Economics - dECON.
  13. Peter Cramton, 2002. "Spectrum Auctions," Papers of Peter Cramton 01hte, University of Maryland, Department of Economics - Peter Cramton, revised 16 Jul 2001.

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