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The Biggest Auction Ever: the Sale of the British 3G Telecom Licenses

This paper reviews the part played by economists in organizing the British third-generation mobile-phone licence auction that concluded on 27 April 2000. It raised £22 1/2 billion ($34 billion or 2 1/2% of GNP) and was widely described at the time as the biggest auction ever. We discuss the merits of auctions versus "beauty contests", the aims of the auction, the problems we faced, the auction designs we considered, and the mistakes that were made.

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File URL: http://www.nuff.ox.ac.uk/economics/papers/2002/w4/biggest29nov.pdf
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Paper provided by Economics Group, Nuffield College, University of Oxford in its series Economics Papers with number 2002-W4.

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Length: 33 pages
Date of creation: 01 Feb 2001
Date of revision: 01 Sep 2001
Handle: RePEc:nuf:econwp:0204
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.nuff.ox.ac.uk/economics/

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  1. 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.
  2. Peter Cramton & Jesse Schwartz, 2002. "Collusive Bidding in the FCC Spectrum Auctions," Papers of Peter Cramton 02collude, University of Maryland, Department of Economics - Peter Cramton, revised 04 Dec 2002.
  3. Klaus Abbink & Bernd Irlenbusch & Paul Pezanis-Christou & Bettina Rockenbach & Abdolkarim Sadrieh & Reinhard Selten, 2001. "An Experimental Test of Design Alternatives for the British 3G / UMTS Auction," Bonn Econ Discussion Papers bgse25_2001, University of Bonn, Germany.
  4. Klemperer, Paul, 1998. "Auctions with almost common values: The 'Wallet Game' and its applications," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 42(3-5), pages 757-769, May.
  5. Jeremy Bulow & Paul Klemperer, 2002. "Prices and the Winner's Curse," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 33(1), pages 1-21, Spring.
  6. 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.
  7. Myerson, Roger B. & Satterthwaite, Mark A., 1983. "Efficient mechanisms for bilateral trading," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 29(2), pages 265-281, April.
  8. Paul Klemperer & Jeremy Bulow, 1998. "Toeholds and Takeovers," Economics Series Working Papers 1998-W04, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  9. 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.
  10. Plott, Charles R. & Salmon, Timothy, 2002. "The Simultaneous, Ascending Auction: Dynamics of Price Adjustment in Experiments and in the U.K. 3G Spectrum Auction," Working Papers 1155, California Institute of Technology, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences.
  11. Bulow, Jeremy I. & Klemperer, Paul, 1994. "Auctions vs. Negotiations," CEPR Discussion Papers 924, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  12. Paul Milgrom & Robert J. Weber, 1981. "A Theory of Auctions and Competitive Bidding," Discussion Papers 447R, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  13. Professor Paul Klemperer, 2000. "What Really Matters in Auction Design," Microeconomics 0004008, EconWPA.
  14. Peter Cramton & Jesse Schwartz, 2000. "Collusive Bidding: Lessons from the FCC Spectrum Auctions," Papers of Peter Cramton 00jre, University of Maryland, Department of Economics - Peter Cramton, revised 09 Mar 1999.
  15. ehiel, Philippe & Benny Moldovanu & Ennio Stacchetti, 1994. "How (not) to sell nuclear weapons," Discussion Paper Serie B 288, University of Bonn, Germany.
  16. Börgers, Tilman & Dustmann, Christian, 2001. "Strange Bids: Bidding Behaviour in the United Kingdom's Third Generation Spectrum Auction," CEPR Discussion Papers 3072, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  17. Paul Klemperer & Jeremy Bulow, 1998. "The Tobacco Deal," Economics Series Working Papers 1999-W11, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  18. R. Preston McAfee & John McMillan, 1996. "Analyzing the Airwaves Auction," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 10(1), pages 159-175, Winter.
  19. John Cable & Andrew Henley & Kevin Holland, 2002. "Pot of gold or winner's curse? An event study of the auctions of 3G mobile telephone licences in the UK," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 23(4), pages 447-462, December.
  20. Gilbert, Richard & Klemperer, Paul, 1993. "An Equilibrium Theory of Rationing," CEPR Discussion Papers 805, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  21. 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.
  22. Ballard, Charles L & Shoven, John B & Whalley, John, 1985. "General Equilibrium Computations of the Marginal Welfare Costs of Taxes in the United States," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(1), pages 128-38, March.
  23. Marco Pagnozzi, 2003. "Sorry Winners," CSEF Working Papers 108, Centre for Studies in Economics and Finance (CSEF), University of Naples, Italy, revised 09 May 2007.
  24. Wruck, Karen Hopper, 1994. "Financial policy, internal control, and performance Sealed Air Corporation's leveraged special dividend," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 36(2), pages 157-192, October.
  25. Martin Feldstein, 1999. "Tax Avoidance And The Deadweight Loss Of The Income Tax," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 81(4), pages 674-680, November.
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