What approach should governments follow for optimizing spectrum auctions?
Access to spectrum is vital for modern digital communications. Radio frequencies are essential for smartphones connectivity, access to the Cloud, the Internet of Things, as well as potential use cases in autonomous vehicles and artificial intelligence.
Governments use auctions in order to allocate radio spectrum to companies efficiently; these auctions have a significant impact on innovation, economic well-being, and government revenues.
Let’s take a look at the results of the 3500MHz auctions in Australia and Canada. Last week, Australia’s auction concluded, raising just under AUS$725M (roughly C$650M). Similar spectrum was auctioned in Canada 2 years ago, raising C$8.9B – more than 13 times the amount. Canadian carriers paid C$3.28 per MHz-pop; Australia’s auction worked out to C$0.26 per MHz-pop.
Canadian carriers paid billions of dollars in higher spectrum fees than their Australian counterparts. Had Canada’s auction been structured to optimize increased infrastructure investment instead of driving government revenues, what would have been the impact on innovation or economic well-being?
The International Telecommunications Society is hosting its next one-hour webinar on December 7, starting at 10:00am (Eastern), looking at “Optimizing spectrum auctions”. Frequent readers know that I have been a big fan of the ITS webinars (Like last month’s AI policy webinar)
Geoffrey Myers, a former economist with Ofcom, and now visiting professor in practice at The London School of Economics and Political Science, will discuss his recent book, Spectrum Auctions: Designing markets to benefit the public, industry and the economy.
The webinar will draw on his extensive experience at the UK’s communications regulator, and his study of the theory and practice of spectrum auctions. Professor Myers will explore the optimization of regulatory design in spectrum auctions, providing insights on the entire spectrum auction process. He will address several critical themes that emerge from his work:
- How can we continually improve spectrum auction design by learning from successes and failures worldwide?
- Are there enough analytical tools to consistently guide and support spectrum policy decisions?
- How can expert advice, extending beyond technical and economic knowledge, shape spectrum policy effectively while considering policymakers’ practical concerns?
This webinar is a valuable resource for regulators, economists, and private sector experts involved in spectrum auction design and bidding strategies. It also provides insights for applied economists, teachers, and advanced students interested in market design and public management.
I hope to see you online. Reserve your complimentary spot today.