Peter Cramton

The FCC Spectrum Auctions: An Early Assessment

This paper analyzes six spectrum auctions conducted by the Federal Communications Commission from July 1994 to May 1996. These auctions were simultaneous multiple-round auctions in which collections of licenses were auctioned simultaneously. This auction form proved remarkably successful. Similar items sold for similar prices, and bidders successfully formed efficient aggregations of licenses. Bidding behavior differed substantially in the auctions. The extent of bidder competition and price uncertainty played an important role in determining behavior. Bidding credits and installment payments also played a major role in several of the auctions.