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Winning Play in Spectrum Auctions

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.

Jeremy Bulow
Jonathan Levin
Paul Milgrom
Publication Date
February, 2009