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Strange Bids: Bidding Behaviour in the United Kingdom's Third Generation Spectrum Auction

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  • Tilman Börgers
  • Christian Dustmann

Abstract

This article studies bidding behaviour in the auction of radio spectrum for third generation mobile telephone services which took place in the UK in the Spring of 2000. We show that several companies' bidding behaviour deviates strongly from straightforward bidding with private values. In particular some companies' evaluation of the added advantage of having a large licence rather than a small licence seemed to change dramatically during the auction. No compelling explanation of this phenomenon seems available at this stage. We conclude that it is less well understood than previously believed how spectrum auctions work. Copyright 2005 Royal Economic Society.

Suggested Citation

  • Tilman Börgers & Christian Dustmann, 2005. "Strange Bids: Bidding Behaviour in the United Kingdom's Third Generation Spectrum Auction," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 115(505), pages 551-578, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:ecj:econjl:v:115:y:2005:i:505:p:551-578
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Heidrun C. Hoppe & Philippe Jehiel & Benny Moldovanu, 2006. "License Auctions and Market Structure," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 15(2), pages 371-396, June.
    2. 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.
    3. Paul Milgrom, 2000. "Putting Auction Theory to Work: The Simultaneous Ascending Auction," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(2), pages 245-272, April.
    4. Peter Cramton, 2002. "Spectrum Auctions," Papers of Peter Cramton 01hte, University of Maryland, Department of Economics - Peter Cramton, revised 16 Jul 2001.
    5. Demange, Gabrielle & Gale, David & Sotomayor, Marilda, 1986. "Multi-Item Auctions," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(4), pages 863-872, August.
    6. Ken Binmore & Paul Klemperer, 2002. "The Biggest Auction Ever: the Sale of the British 3G Telecom Licences," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(478), pages 74-96, March.
    7. Paul Klemperer, 2002. "What Really Matters in Auction Design," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 16(1), pages 169-189, Winter.
    8. Peter Cramton, 1997. "The FCC Spectrum Auctions: An Early Assessment," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 6(3), pages 431-495, September.
    9. 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.
    10. Grimm, Veronika & Riedel, Frank & Wolfstetter, Elmar, 2001. "The third generation (UMTS) spectrum auction in Germany," SFB 373 Discussion Papers 2001,70, Humboldt University of Berlin, Interdisciplinary Research Project 373: Quantification and Simulation of Economic Processes.
    11. Emiel Maasland & Sander Onderstal, 2007. "Auctions with Financial Externalities," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 32(3), pages 551-574, September.
    12. Ken Binmore & Paul Klemperer, 2002. "The Biggest Auction Ever: the Sale of the British 3G Telecom Licences," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(478), pages C74-C96, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Hugo Hopenhayn & Maryam Saeedi, 2016. "Bidding Dynamics in Auctions," NBER Working Papers 22716, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. David Ettinger & Fabio Michelucci, 2016. "Creating a winner’s curse via jump bids," Review of Economic Design, Springer;Society for Economic Design, vol. 20(3), pages 173-186, September.
    3. Ken Binmore & Paul Klemperer, 2002. "The Biggest Auction Ever: the Sale of the British 3G Telecom Licences," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(478), pages 74-96, March.
    4. Dodonova, Anna & Khoroshilov, Yuri, 2014. "Can preemptive bidding in takeover auctions be socially optimal? Yes it can," The North American Journal of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 27(C), pages 34-47.
    5. Isaac, R. Mark & Salmon, Timothy C. & Zillante, Arthur, 2007. "A theory of jump bidding in ascending auctions," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 62(1), pages 144-164, January.
    6. Moldovanu, Benny & Ewerhart II, Christian, 2002. "A Stylized Model of the German UMTS Auction," Sonderforschungsbereich 504 Publications 02-07, Sonderforschungsbereich 504, Universität Mannheim;Sonderforschungsbereich 504, University of Mannheim.
    7. van Damme, E.E.C., 2002. "The Dutch UMTS-auction," Other publications TiSEM e33a97f5-c69b-4c3b-9aca-4, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
    8. Roman Sheremeta & Jingjing Zhang, 2010. "Can groups solve the problem of over-bidding in contests?," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 35(2), pages 175-197, July.
    9. Moldovanu, Benny & Ewerhart II, Christian, 2001. "The German UMTS Design: Insights From Multi-Object Auction Theory," Sonderforschungsbereich 504 Publications 02-05, Sonderforschungsbereich 504, Universität Mannheim;Sonderforschungsbereich 504, University of Mannheim.
    10. Englmaier, Florian & Guillén, Pablo & Llorente, Loreto & Onderstal, Sander & Sausgruber, Rupert, 2009. "The chopstick auction: A study of the exposure problem in multi-unit auctions," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 286-291, March.
    11. Klemperer, Paul, 2002. "How (not) to run auctions: The European 3G telecom auctions," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 46(4-5), pages 829-845, May.
    12. van Damme, Eric, 2002. "The European UMTS-auctions," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 46(4-5), pages 846-858, May.
    13. Ricardo Gonçalves, 2008. "A communication equilibrium in English auctions with discrete bidding," Working Papers de Economia (Economics Working Papers) 042008, Católica Porto Business School, Universidade Católica Portuguesa.
    14. Emiel Maasland & Sander Onderstal, 2007. "Auctions with Financial Externalities," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 32(3), pages 551-574, September.
    15. Maasland, E. & Onderstal, A.M., 2002. "Optimal Auctions with Financial Externalities," Discussion Paper 2002-21, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
    16. Khoroshilov, Yuri, 2015. "An experimental study of signaling in auctions with a flexible reserve price," The North American Journal of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 34(C), pages 124-137.
    17. Veronika Grimm & Frank Riedel & Elmar G. Wolfstetter, 2001. "The Third Generation (UMTS) Spectrum Auction in Germany," CESifo Working Paper Series 584, CESifo Group Munich.
    18. repec:dau:papers:123456789/15048 is not listed on IDEAS
    19. Yaron Raviv, 2008. "The Role Of The Bidding Process In Price Determination: Jump Bidding In Sequential English Auctions," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 46(3), pages 325-341, July.
    20. Matthias Sutter & Martin Kocher & Sabine Strau?, "undated". "Individuals and teams in UMTS-license auctions," Working Papers 2007-23, Faculty of Economics and Statistics, University of Innsbruck.
    21. Laurent Lamy, 2009. "Ascending auctions: some impossibility results and their resolutions with final price discounts," Working Papers halshs-00575076, HAL.

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    JEL classification:

    • D44 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design - - - Auctions

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