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Collusive Bidding in the FCC Spectrum Auctions

Author

Listed:
  • Cramton Peter

    () (University of Maryland)

  • Schwartz Jesse A

    () (Vanderbilt University)

Abstract

This paper describes the bid signaling that occurred in many of the FCC spectrum auctions. Bidders in these auctions bid on numerous spectrum licenses simultaneously, with bidding remaining open on all licenses until no bidder is willing to raise the bid on any license. Simultaneous open bidding allows bidders to send messages to their rivals, telling them on which licenses to bid and which to avoid. This “code bidding” occurs when one bidder tags the last few digits of its bid with the market number of a related license. We examine how extensively bidders signaled each other with retaliating bids and code bids in the DEF-block PCS spectrum auction. We find that only a small fraction of the bidders commonly used retaliating bids and code bids. These bidders won more than 40% of the spectrum for sale and paid significantly less for their overall winnings.

Suggested Citation

  • Cramton Peter & Schwartz Jesse A, 2002. "Collusive Bidding in the FCC Spectrum Auctions," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 1(1), pages 1-20, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:bpj:bejeap:v:contributions.1:y:2002:i:1:n:11
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Cramton, Peter & Schwartz, Jesse A, 2000. "Collusive Bidding: Lessons from the FCC Spectrum Auctions," Journal of Regulatory Economics, Springer, vol. 17(3), pages 229-252, May.
    2. Sandro Brusco & Giuseppe Lopomo, 2002. "Collusion via Signalling in Simultaneous Ascending Bid Auctions with Heterogeneous Objects, with and without Complementarities," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 69(2), pages 407-436.
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    7. Peter Cramton, 1997. "The FCC Spectrum Auctions: An Early Assessment," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 6(3), pages 431-495, September.
    8. 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, September.
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    17. Mailath, George J. & Zemsky, Peter, 1991. "Collusion in second price auctions with heterogeneous bidders," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 3(4), pages 467-486, November.
    18. 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.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D44 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design - - - Auctions
    • L12 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Monopoly; Monopolization Strategies
    • L96 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Transportation and Utilities - - - Telecommunications

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