Introduction

The FCC used comparative hearings to allocate spectrum licenses prior to 1982 and used lotteries starting in 1982. The Commission was given auction authority in 1993 and held its first auction in 1994. Comparative hearings allowed regulators to decide which applicant would put the spectrum to its best use. Unfortunately, as described by Milgrom in his 2004 book, Putting Auction Theory to Work (p.3), "The process was hardly objective: it involved lawyers and lobbyists arguing that their plans and clients were most deserving of a valuable but free government license." Lotteries sped up the process, but introduced their own problems. Milgrom (2004, p.3) states: "Lottery winners were free to resell their licenses, encouraging thousands of new applicants to apply for licenses and randomly rewarding many with prizes worth many millions of dollars. Lottery winners were often simple speculators .... Economic resources were wasted on a grand scale, both in processing hundreds of thousands of applications and in the consequent need for real wireless operators to negotiate and buy licenses from these speculators. The lotteries of small licenses contributed to the geographic fragmentation of the cellular industry, delaying the introduction of nationwide mobile telephone services in the United States." Auctions were identified as the mechanism best able to assign the licenses to the highest valuing users and to return a part of the value to the taxpayer. The basic simultaneous multiple round auction format that was adopted in 1994 remains the mainstay of FCC auctions today, although it has evolved over time.

Auction Data

FCC auctions are administered by the Auctions Division of the FCC's Wireless Telecommunications Bureau and all data is publicly available at http://wireless.fcc.gov/auctions/, but has been organized here to provide consistency across auctions and improve accessibility. All Excel files are in Excel 2007 (xlsx) format and all Access files are in Access 2007 (accdb) format. Click here to download the compatibility pack to allow Office 2003 users to view and use Excel 2007 files.


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Auction 1

Nationwide Narrowband (PCS)
7/25/1994 - 7/29/1994
6 bidders won 10 licenses
Gross bids: $650,306,674

Auction 2

Interactive Video and Data Services (IVDS)
7/28/1994 - 7/29/1994
178 bidders won 594 licenses
Gross bids: $248,743,000

Auction 3

Regional Narrowband (PCS)
10/26/1994 - 11/8/1994
9 bidders won 30 licenses
Gross bids: $488,772,800

Auction 4

Broadband PCS A and B Block
12/5/1994 - 3/13/1995
18 bidders won 99 licenses
Gross bids: $7,019,403,797

Auction 5

Broadband PCS C Block
12/18/1995 - 5/6/1996
89 bidders won 493 licenses
Gross bids: $13,428,945,122

Auction 6

Multipoint/Multichannel Distribution Services
11/13/1995 - 3/28/1996
67 bidders won 493 licenses
Gross bids: $239,729,992

Auction 7

900 MHz Specialized Mobile Radio Service
12/5/1995 - 4/15/1996
80 bidders won 1020 licenses
Gross bids: $212,215,788

Auction 8

Direct Broadcast Satellite 110 Degrees (DBS)
1/24/1996 - 1/25/1996
1 bidder won 1 license
Gross bids: $682,500,000

Auction 9

Direct Broadcast Satellite 148 Degrees (DBS)
1/25/1996 - 1/26/1996
1 bidder won 1 license
Gross bids: $52,295,000

Auction 10

Broadband PCS C Block Reauction
7/3/1996 - 7/16/1996
7 bidders won 18 licenses
Gross bids: $697,213,950

Auction 11

Broadband PCS D, E, & F Block
8/26/1996 - 1/14/1997
125 bidders won 1472 licenses
Gross bids: $2,715,885,604

Auction 12

Cellular Unserved
1/13/1997 - 1/21/1997
10 bidders won 14 licenses
Gross bids: $1,842,533

Auction 14

Wireless Communications Service (WCS)
4/15/1997 - 4/25/1997
17 bidders won 126 licenses
Gross bids: $14,892,613

Auction 15

Digital Audio Radio Service
4/1/1997 - 4/2/1997
2 bidders won 2 licenses
Gross bids: $173,234,888

Auction 16

800 MHz Specialized Mobile Radio Service (SMR)
10/28/1997 - 12/8/1997
14 bidders won 5243 licenses
Gross bids: $98,609,975

Auction 17

Local Multipoint Distribution System (LMDS)
2/18/1998 - 3/25/1998
104 bidders won 864 licenses
Gross bids: $834,177,095

Auction 18

220 MHz
9/15/1998 - 10/22/1998
44 bidders won 693 licenses
Gross bids: $26,119,598

Auction 20

VHF Public Coast
12/3/1998 - 12/14/1998
4 bidders won 26 licenses
Gross bids: $7,812,000

Auction 21

Location and Monitoring Services (LMS)
2/23/1999 - 3/5/1999
4 bidders won 289 licenses
Gross bids: $5,289,677

Auction 22

C, D, E, and F Block Broadband PCS
3/23/1999 - 4/15/1999
57 bidders won 302 licenses
Gross bids: $532,970,215

Auction 23

Local Multipoint Distribution Services (LMDS) Re-Auction
4/27/1999 - 5/12/1999
40 bidders won 161 licenses
Gross bids: $65,244,000

Auction 24

220 MHz
6/8/1999 - 6/30/1999
16 bidders won 222 licenses
Gross bids: $2,537,100

Auction 25

Closed Broadcast
9/28/1999 - 10/8/1999
91 bidders won 115 licenses
Gross bids: $68,781,900

Auction 26

929 and 931 MHz Paging Service
2/24/2000 - 3/2/2000
78 bidders won 985 licenses
Gross bids: $4,927,200

Auction 27

Broadcast Auction
10/6/1999 - 10/8/1999
1 bidder won 1 license
Gross bids: $265,000

Auction 28

Broadcast Auction
3/21/2000 - 3/24/2000
2 bidders won 2 licenses
Gross bids: $1,210,000

Auction 30

39 GHz
4/12/2000 - 5/8/2000
29 bidders won 2173 licenses
Gross bids: $467,214,200

Auction 32

New AM Broadcast Stations
12/10/2002 - 12/12/2002
3 bidders won 3 licenses
Gross bids: $1,533,500

Auction 33

Upper 700 MHz Guard Bands
9/6/2000 - 9/21/2000
9 bidders won 96 licenses
Gross bids: $545,885,000

Auction 34

800 MHz SMR General Category Service
8/16/2000 - 9/1/2000
14 bidders won 1030 licenses
Gross bids: $337,494,900

Auction 35

C and F Block Broadbnd PCS
12/12/2000 - 1/26/2001
35 bidders won 422 licenses
Gross bids: $17,597,015,000

Auction 36

800 MHz SMR Lower 80 Channels Service
11/1/2000 - 12/5/2000
22 bidders won 2800 licenses
Gross bids: $29,499,300

Auction 37

FM Broadcast
11/3/2004 - 11/23/2004
110 bidders won 258 licenses
Gross bids: $178,001,500

Auction 38

Upper 700 MHz Guard Bands
2/13/2001 - 2/21/2001
3 bidders won 8 licenses
Gross bids: $24,052,000

Auction 39

VHF Public Coast and Location and Monitoring Services
6/6/2001 - 6/13/2001
7 bidders won 217 licenses
Gross bids: $1,707,100

Auction 40

Paging
10/30/2001 - 12/5/2001
182 bidders won 5323 licenses
Gross bids: $17,789,450

Auction 41

Narrowband PCS
10/3/2001 - 10/16/2001
5 bidders won 317 licenses
Gross bids: $11,013,915

Auction 42

Multiple Address Systems Spectrum
11/14/2001 - 11/27/2001
13 bidders won 878 licenses
Gross bids: $1,503,700

Auction 43

Multi-Radio Service
1/10/2002 - 1/17/2002
3 bidders won 27 licenses
Gross bids: $1,593,200

Auction 44

Lower 700 MHz Band
8/27/2002 - 9/18/2002
102 bidders won 484 licenses
Gross bids: $116,118,800

Auction 45

Cellular RSA
5/29/2002 - 6/4/2002
3 bidders won 3 licenses
Gross bids: $15,871,000

Auction 46

1670-1675 MHz Band Nationwide License
4/30/2003 - 4/30/2003
1 bidder won 1 license
Gross bids: $12,628,000

Auction 48

Lower and Upper Paging Bands
5/13/2003 - 5/28/2003
96 bidders won 2832 licenses
Gross bids: $3,200,110

Auction 49

Lower 700 MHz Band
5/28/2003 - 6/13/2003
35 bidders won 251 licenses
Gross bids: $62,983,100

Auction 50

Narrowband PCS
9/24/2003 - 9/29/2003
4 bidders won 48 licenses
Gross bids: $571,610

Auction 51

Regional Narrowband PCS
9/24/2003 - 9/25/2003
1 bidder won 5 licenses
Gross bids: $179,000

Auction 52

Direct Broadcast Satellite Service
7/14/2004 - 7/14/2004
2 bidders won 3 licenses
Gross bids: $12,200,000

Auction 53

Multichannel Video Distribution & Data Service (MVDDS)
1/14/2004 - 1/27/2004
10 bidders won 192 licenses
Gross bids: $136,936,200

Auction 54

Closed Broadcast
7/23/2003 - 7/29/2003
2 bidders won 4 licenses
Gross bids: $7,039,000

Auction 55

900 MHz Specialized Mobile Radio Service
2/11/2004 - 2/25/2004
5 bidders won 55 licenses
Gross bids: $4,866,000

Auction 56

24 GHz Service
7/28/2004 - 7/28/2004
3 bidders won 7 licenses
Gross bids: $306,000

Auction 57

Automated Maritime Telecommunications System
9/15/2004 - 9/15/2004
4 bidders won 10 licenses
Gross bids: $1,527,100

Auction 58

Broadband PCS
1/26/2005 - 2/15/2005
24 bidders won 217 licenses
Gross bids: $2,253,802,000

Auction 59

Multiple Address Systems Spectrum
4/26/2005 - 5/18/2005
26 bidders won 2220 licenses
Gross bids: $5,275,000

Auction 60

Lower 700 MHz Band
7/20/2005 - 7/26/2005
3 bidders won 5 licenses
Gross bids: $460,700

Auction 61

Automated Maritime Telecommunications System
8/3/2005 - 8/17/2005
4 bidders won 10 licenses
Gross bids: $10,881,000

Auction 62

FM Broadcast
1/12/2006 - 1/31/2006
96 bidders won 163 licenses
Gross bids: $70,122,000

Auction 63

Multichannel Video Distribution & Data Service (MVDDS)
12/7/2005 - 12/7/2005
3 bidders won 22 licenses
Gross bids: $204,000

Auction 64

Full Power Television Station Construction Permits
3/15/2006 - 3/20/2006
8 bidders won 10 licenses
Gross bids: $26,717,000

Auction 65

800 MHz Air-Ground Radiotelephone Service
5/10/2006 - 6/2/2006
2 bidders won 2 licenses
Gross bids: $38,339,000

Auction 66

Advanced Wireless Services (AWS-1)
8/9/2006 - 9/18/2006
104 bidders won 1087 licenses
Gross bids: $13,879,110,200

Auction 68

FM Broadcast
1/10/2007 - 1/17/2007
9 bidders won 9 licenses
Gross bids: $3,663,000

Auction 69

1.4 GHz Bands
2/7/2007 - 3/8/2007
2 bidders won 64 licenses
Gross bids: $123,599,000

Auction 70

FM Broadcast
3/7/2007 - 3/26/2007
60 bidders won 111 licenses
Gross bids: $24,488,400

Auction 71

Broadband PCS
5/16/2007 - 5/21/2007
12 bidders won 33 licenses
Gross bids: $14,562,000

Auction 72

220 MHz
6/20/2007 - 6/26/2007
5 bidders won 76 licenses
Gross bids: $275,370

Auction 73

700 MHz
1/24/2008 - 3/18/2008
101 bidders won 1090 licenses
Gross bids: $19,120,378,000

Auction 80

Blanco Texas Broadcast
7/12/2000 - 7/14/2000
1 bidder won 1 license
Gross bids: $18,798,000

Auction 81

Low Power Television (LPTV)
9/14/2005 - 9/26/2005
39 bidders won 90 licenses
Gross bids: $997,100

Auction 82

New Analog Television Stations
2/5/2002 - 2/13/2002
3 bidders won 4 licenses
Gross bids: $6,134,000