Auctioning the Airwaves, Google Style

Michael Giberson

Google filed a proposal on Monday with the Federal Communications Commission calling on the agency to let companies allocate radio spectrum using the same kind of real-time auction that the search engine company now uses to sell advertisements.

The NYTimes article is a little short on the technical details of the proposal (I guess not everyone is a market design geek). Usually these filings turn up on the FCC website, but in a few brief attempts I haven’t turned up anything yet. I’ll let you know when I find it.

In the meantime, some additional details and commentary can be found at O’Reilly’s Radar, The Next Net, GigaOM, and bloggingstocks.

If it turns out that spectrum will be available via a continuous, dynamic auction, similar to how Google sells space for advertisements, it will raise the significance of auction theory work on the properties of that market design. For economists and other technical types, a good place to start is Hal Varian’s paper, “Position Auctions.” If you are new to auction theory, begin with Ken Steiglitz’s Snipers, Shills, and Sharks, a fine introduction. While the book focuses on eBay-style online auctions, it also discusses and provides citations on position auctions.


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  1. Auctioning the Airwaves, Google Style, II

    Michael Giberson The tech trade press seems abuzz with speculation over Google’s interest in the FCC’s spectrum auction rules. Google phone? Google wireless? Google the spectrum monopolist? Google turning your cell phone into a mobile AdWords delivery …

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