FCC: Blind-bid system for spectrum auctions

The FCC is set to change the way spectrum auctions work in the U.S. to make it more difficult for carriers to get discounts and learn who else is bidding on spectrum auctions while maximizing the government's take. The answer? Anonymous bids for the 110 licenses of 90 MHz of spectrum, which is reserved for high-speed data services. The Treasury Department seeks to make as much as $15 billion off the auctions set to take place this June. The identities of the bidders will remain anonymous during multiple round bidding, but the bid amounts will not. Details of the proposal are still scarce, but the FCC will vote on the proposal tomorrow. FCC chief economist Leslie Marx pushed for the change of rules and FCC Chairman Kevin Martin seconded the measure.

The government sees blind auctions as a means of cutting down on cooperation between wireless companies to win licenses less expensively or to punish other carriers that bid against them. While the measure may "reduce opportunities for tacit collusion," there's always room for retaliation afterward. And collusion, of course, can take place beforehand.

For more on the FCC's proposed rule changes:
- read this article from The Wall Street Journal (sub. req.)

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