Skip to content Skip to navigation

FCC Votes 5-0 to Propose Incentive Auction

Sep 28 2012

“This is a big deal.” With those words, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski introduced the FCC’s latest initiative to develop a wireless information superhighway for US businesses and consumers. The Commissioners voted 5-0 to propose a system that would encourage U.S. television broadcasters to turn in their spectrum licenses in exchange for a portion of the proceeds from reselling those licenses. The notice of proposed rulemaking that the FCC adopted included the auction design proposed by a Milgrom-led team. Other team members included Professors Lawrence Ausubel, Jon Levin and Ilya Segal.

Milgrom has been involved in developing the original US auctions as well. As Chairman Genachowski explained, “due to the incredible work of FCC staffers like Evan Kwerel and Greg Rosston and outside experts like Paul Milgrom, the auction turned out to be a major success. Fortunately, Evan and Greg and Paul are engaged in this proceeding as well.”

The Incentive Auction is exciting for both commercial and scholarly reasons. Commercially, the the sums involved in the auctions to buy spectrum from broadcasters and sell it for flexible use are expected to be in the tens of billions of dollars. And, the U.S. government considers the development of broadband networks now to be comparable to the development of the highway system in the mid-20th century, calling it “the infrastructure project of the 21st century.”

For scholars, there is additional excitement because the Incentive Auctions raise design issues that have not been previously encountered or studied. Milgrom and Segal plan to issue an academic paper soon explaining the novel theory underlying the design.

Latest News

The American Economic Association has named Paul Milgrom a Distinguished Fellow, which is the associations highest honor for lifetime achievement. According to the award citation, Milgrom "is the world’s leading auction designer, having helped design many of the auctions for radio spectrum...
Feb 21 2020
Paul delivered the 2019 Aumann lecture, honoring Nobel Laureate Robert Aumann in Israel in July 2019. This lecture was expanded and updated for Paul's 2019 Marshall lectures, delivered over two days at Cambridge University in November, 2019. Those lectures were recorded and are available online  at...
Sep 10 2019
Auctionomics, working on behalf of the C-Band Alliance, has proposed a novel auction design called FUEL ("flexible use and efficient licensing") to sell rights to use the C-band for 5g. The design, proposed in June 2019, is a combinatorial design in which bidders can bid for between 0-9 licenses in...