NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Winning Play in Spectrum Auctions

Jeremy Bulow, Jonathan Levin, Paul Milgrom

NBER Working Paper No. 14765
Issued in March 2009
NBER Program(s):   IO

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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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w14765

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