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The Efficiency of the FCC Spectrum Auctions

From July 1994 to July 1996, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) conducted nine spectrum auctions, raising about $20 billion for the U.S. Treasury. The auctions assigned thousands of licenses to hundreds of firms. Were the auctions efficient? Did they award the licenses to the firms best able to turn the spectrum into valuable services for onsumers? There is substantial evidence that the FCC's simultaneous ascending auction worked well. It raised large revenues. It revealed critical information in the process of bidding and gave bidders the flexibility to adjust strategies in response to new information. As a result, similar licenses sold for similar prices, and bidders were able to piece together sensible sets of licenses.

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File URL: http://www.cramton.umd.edu/papers1995-1999/98jle-efficiency-of-the-fcc-spectrum-auctions.pdf
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Paper provided by University of Maryland, Department of Economics - Peter Cramton in its series Papers of Peter Cramton with number 98jlefcc.

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Length: 11 pages
Date of creation: 27 Jul 1998
Date of revision: 27 Jul 1998
Publication status: Published in Journal of Law and Economics, 41:2, October 1998, pages 727-736.
Handle: RePEc:pcc:pccumd:98jlefcc
Contact details of provider: Postal: Economics Department, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742-7211
Phone: (202) 318-0520
Fax: (202) 318-0520
Web page: http://www.cramton.umd.edu

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  1. 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.
  2. Peter Cramton, 1995. "Money Out of Thin Air: The Nationwide Narrowband PCS Auction," Papers of Peter Cramton 95jems, University of Maryland, Department of Economics - Peter Cramton, revised 09 Jun 1998.
  3. Peter Cramton, 1997. "The FCC Spectrum Auctions: An Early Assessment," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 6(3), pages 431-495, 09.
  4. Ian Ayres & Peter Cramton, 1996. "Deficit Reduction Through Diversity: How Affirmative Action at the FCC Increased Auction Competition," Papers of Peter Cramton 96slr, University of Maryland, Department of Economics - Peter Cramton, revised 09 Jun 1998.
  5. Richard Engelbrecht-Wiggans & Charles M. Kahn, 1998. "Multi-unit auctions with uniform prices," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 12(2), pages 227-258.
  6. Milgrom, Paul R & Weber, Robert J, 1982. "A Theory of Auctions and Competitive Bidding," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(5), pages 1089-1122, September.
  7. Lawrence M. Ausubel & Peter Cramton & R. Preston McAfee & John McMillan, 1998. "Synergies in Wireless Telephony: Evidence from the Broadband PCS Auctions," Papers of Peter Cramton 97jems, University of Maryland, Department of Economics - Peter Cramton, revised 09 Jun 1998.
  8. Lawrence M. Ausubel & Peter Cramton, 1995. "Demand Reduction and Inefficiency in Multi-Unit Auctions," Papers of Peter Cramton 98wpdr, University of Maryland, Department of Economics - Peter Cramton, revised 22 Jul 2002.
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