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Economics and computer science of a radio spectrum reallocation

  1. Ilya Segalb,c,1
  1. aDepartment of Computer Science, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z4, Canada;
  2. bAuctionomics, Palo Alto, CA 94301;
  3. cDepartment of Economics, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305
  1. Edited by Jose A. Scheinkman, Columbia University, New York, NY, and approved May 25, 2017 (received for review February 4, 2017)

Abstract

The recent “incentive auction” of the US Federal Communications Commission was the first auction to reallocate radio frequencies between two different kinds of uses: from broadcast television to wireless Internet access. The design challenge was not just to choose market rules to govern a fixed set of potential trades but also, to determine the broadcasters’ property rights, the goods to be exchanged, the quantities to be traded, the computational procedures, and even some of the performance objectives. An essential and unusual challenge was to make the auction simple enough for human participants while still ensuring that the computations would be tractable and capable of delivering nearly efficient outcomes.

Footnotes

  • ?1K.L.-B., P.M., and I.S. contributed equally to this work.

  • ?2To whom correspondence should be addressed. Email: milgrom{at}stanford.edu.
  • Author contributions: P.M. designed research; K.L.-B., P.M., and I.S. performed research; and K.L.-B., P.M., and I.S. wrote the paper.

  • Conflict of interest statement: P.M. led the team of consultants on behalf of Auctionomics, which was responsible for advising the Federal Communications Commission on the design of the incentive auction. K.L.-B. and I.S. were the two other members of the Auctionomics consulting team.

  • This article is a PNAS Direct Submission.

Online Impact

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