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Winning Play in Spectrum Auctions

  • Jeremy Bulow
  • Jonathan Levin
  • Paul Milgrom

We describe factors that make bidding in large spectrum auctions complex -- including exposure and budget problems, the role of timing within an ascending auction, and the possibilities for price forecasting -- and how economic and game-theoretic analysis can assist bidders in overcoming these problems. We illustrate with the case of the FCC's Advanced Wireless Service auction, in which a new entrant, SpectrumCo, faced all these problems yet managed to purchase nationwide coverage at a discount of roughly a third relative to the prices paid by its incumbent competitors in the same auction, saving more than a billion dollars.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 14765.

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Date of creation: Mar 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14765
Note: IO
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  1. Milgrom,Paul, 2004. "Putting Auction Theory to Work," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521551847, October.
  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 Klemperer, 2000. "What Really Matters in Auction Design," Economics Series Working Papers 2000-W26, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  4. Robert Day & Peter Cramton, 2008. "Quadratic Core-Selecting Payment Rules for Combinatorial Auctions," Papers of Peter Cramton 08qcspr, University of Maryland, Department of Economics - Peter Cramton, revised 2012.
  5. Zheng, Charles Z., 2012. "Jump bidding and overconcentration in decentralized simultaneous ascending auctions," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 76(2), pages 648-664.
  6. Robert Day & Paul Milgrom, 2008. "Core-selecting package auctions," International Journal of Game Theory, Springer, vol. 36(3), pages 393-407, March.
  7. Peter Cramton & Yoav Shoham & Richard Steinberg, 2004. "Combinatorial Auctions," Papers of Peter Cramton 04mit, University of Maryland, Department of Economics - Peter Cramton, revised 2004.
  8. Gul, Faruk & Stacchetti, Ennio, 2000. "The English Auction with Differentiated Commodities," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 92(1), pages 66-95, May.
  9. Peter Cramton & Yoav Shoham & Richard Steinberg (ed.), 2006. "Combinatorial Auctions," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262033429, June.
  10. Avery, Christopher, 1998. "Strategic Jump Bidding in English Auctions," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 65(2), pages 185-210, April.
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