IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Auction Design and Tacit Collusion in FCC Spectrum Auctions


  • Patrick Bajari
  • Jungwon Yeo


The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has used auctions to award spectrum since 1994. During this time period, the FCC has experimented with a variety of auctions rules including click box bidding and anonymous bidding. These rule changes make the actions of bidders less visible during the auction and also limit the set of bids which can be submitted by a bidder during a particular round. Economic theory suggests that tacit collusion may be more difficult as a result. We examine this proposition using data from 4 auctions: the PCS C Block, Auction 35, the Advanced Wireless Service auction and the 700 Mhz auction. We examine the frequency of jump bids, retaliatory bids and straightforward bids across these auctions. While this simple descriptive exercise has a number of limitations, the data suggests that these rule changes did limit firms' ability to tacitly collude.

Suggested Citation

  • Patrick Bajari & Jungwon Yeo, 2008. "Auction Design and Tacit Collusion in FCC Spectrum Auctions," NBER Working Papers 14441, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14441
    Note: IO

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    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. 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. Green, Edward J & Porter, Robert H, 1984. "Noncooperative Collusion under Imperfect Price Information," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 52(1), pages 87-100, January.
    5. 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.
    6. 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.
    7. 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.
    8. Christopher Avery, 1998. "Strategic Jump Bidding in English Auctions," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 65(2), pages 185-210.
    9. Jeremy T. Fox & Patrick Bajari, 2013. "Measuring the Efficiency of an FCC Spectrum Auction," American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 5(1), pages 100-146, February.
    10. Milgrom,Paul, 2004. "Putting Auction Theory to Work," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521536721, May.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Brusco, Sandro & Lopomo, Giuseppe & Marx, Leslie M., 2009. "The [`]Google effect' in the FCC's 700Â MHz auction," Information Economics and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 21(2), pages 101-114, June.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • L0 - Industrial Organization - - General
    • L4 - Industrial Organization - - Antitrust Issues and Policies
    • L51 - Industrial Organization - - Regulation and Industrial Policy - - - Economics of Regulation

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    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:nbr:nberwo:14441. 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: (). General contact details of provider: .

    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.