IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/ecm/wc2000/1210.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Collusive Bidding in the FCC Spectrum Auctions

Author

Listed:
  • Peter Cramton

    (University of Maryland)

  • Jesse Schwartz

    (Vanderbilt University)

Abstract

This paper describes the signaling that occurred in many of the FCC spectrum auctions. The FCC's simultaneous ascending auctions allowed bidders to bid on numerous communication licenses simultaneously, with bidding remaining open on all licenses until no bidder was willing to raise the bid on any license. Simultaneous open bidding allowed 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. Such bids can help bidders coordinate a division of the licenses, and enforce the proposed division through targeted punishments. Often the meaning of a bid is clear without attaching a market number in the trailing digits. Such a "retaliating bid" need not end in a market number to warn off a rival from a contested market. We examine how extensively bidders signaled each other with retaliating bids and code bids in the DEF-block PCS spectrum auction held from August 1996 through January 1997. We find that only a small fraction of the bidders commonly used these signals. The price differences between those markets where signaling did and did not occur were negligible. However, bidders that used these collusive bidding strategies won more than 40% of the spectrum for sale and paid significantly less for their overall winnings, suggesting that the indirect losses from code bidding and retaliation may be large.

Suggested Citation

  • Peter Cramton & Jesse Schwartz, 2000. "Collusive Bidding in the FCC Spectrum Auctions," Econometric Society World Congress 2000 Contributed Papers 1210, Econometric Society.
  • Handle: RePEc:ecm:wc2000:1210
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://fmwww.bc.edu/RePEc/es2000/1210.pdf
    File Function: main text
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    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.
    3. Susan Athey & Kyle Bagwell & Chris Sanchirico, 2004. "Collusion and Price Rigidity," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 71(2), pages 317-349.
    4. 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.
    5. R. Preston McAfee & John McMillan, 1996. "Analyzing the Airwaves Auction," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 10(1), pages 159-175, Winter.
    6. Lawrence M. Ausubel & Peter Cramton & Marek Pycia & Marzena Rostek & Marek Weretka, 2014. "Demand Reduction and Inefficiency in Multi-Unit Auctions," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 81(4), pages 1366-1400.
    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.
    9. Robert J. Weber, 1997. "Making More from Less: Strategic Demand Reduction in the FCC Spectrum Auctions," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 6(3), pages 529-548, September.
    10. Baldwin, Laura H & Marshall, Robert C & Richard, Jean-Francois, 1997. "Bidder Collusion at Forest Service Timber Sales," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(4), pages 657-699, August.
    11. Fudenberg, Drew & Maskin, Eric, 1986. "The Folk Theorem in Repeated Games with Discounting or with Incomplete Information," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 54(3), pages 533-554, May.
    12. Ausubel Lawrence M & Milgrom Paul R, 2002. "Ascending Auctions with Package Bidding," The B.E. Journal of Theoretical Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 1(1), pages 1-44, August.
    13. Richard Engelbrecht-Wiggans & Charles M. Kahn, 2005. "Low-Revenue Equilibria in Simultaneous Ascending-Bid Auctions," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 51(3), pages 508-518, March.
    14. Duan, Naihua, et al, 1983. "A Comparison of Alternative Models for the Demand for Medical Care," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 1(2), pages 115-126, April.
    15. John McMillan, 1994. "Selling Spectrum Rights," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 8(3), pages 145-162, Summer.
    16. Sandro Brusco & Giuseppe Lopomo, 1999. "Collusion via Signalling in Open Ascending Auctions with Multiple Objects and Complementarities," Working Papers 99-05, New York University, Leonard N. Stern School of Business, Department of Economics.
    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.
    19. Graham, Daniel A & Marshall, Robert C, 1987. "Collusive Bidder Behavior at Single-Object Second-Price and English Auctions," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 95(6), pages 1217-1239, December.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    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

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:ecm:wc2000:1210. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Christopher F. Baum). General contact details of provider: http://edirc.repec.org/data/essssea.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.