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Analyzing the Airwaves Auction

  • R. Preston McAfee
  • John McMillan

The design of the Federal Communications Commission spectrum license auction is a case study in the application of economic theory. Auction theory helped address policy questions such as whether an open auction or a sealed-bid auction should be used; whether the licenses should be auctioned sequentially or simultaneously; whether the government should allow bids for combinations of licenses or accept only single-license bids; how the auction should should be structured to promote the interests of minority-owned and other designated firms; whether the government should impose royalties or reserve prices; and how much the bidders should be informed about their competition.

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Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal Journal of Economic Perspectives.

Volume (Year): 10 (1996)
Issue (Month): 1 (Winter)
Pages: 159-175

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Handle: RePEc:aea:jecper:v:10:y:1996:i:1:p:159-75
Note: DOI: 10.1257/jep.10.1.159
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  1. George A. Akerlof, 1970. "The Market for "Lemons": Quality Uncertainty and the Market Mechanism," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 84(3), pages 488-500.
  2. Pitchik, Carolyn & Schotter, Andrew, 1986. "Perfect Equilibria in Budget Constrained Sequential Auctions: An Experimental Study," Working Papers 86-22, C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University.
  3. 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.
  4. McAfee, R. Preston & McMillan, John, 1989. "Government procurement and international trade," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 26(3-4), pages 291-308, May.
  5. 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.
  6. Myerson, Roger B. & Satterthwaite, Mark A., 1983. "Efficient mechanisms for bilateral trading," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 29(2), pages 265-281, April.
  7. Robert Wilson, 1977. "A Bidding Model of Perfect Competition," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 44(3), pages 511-518.
  8. B. Douglas Bernheim & Michael D. Whinston, 1986. "Menu Auctions, Resource Allocation, and Economic Influence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 101(1), pages 1-31.
  9. Menezes, Flavio M., 1996. "Multiple-unit English auctions," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 12(4), pages 671-684, December.
  10. Christopher Avery, 1998. "Strategic Jump Bidding in English Auctions," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 65(2), pages 185-210.
  11. Hazlett, Thomas W, 1998. "Assigning Property Rights to Radio Spectrum Users: Why Did FCC License Auctions Take 67 Years?," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 41(2), pages 529-75, October.
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