Spectrum Auctions

High Stake Auctions

High stake auctions is a common term for advanced auctions used for trading commodities of great importance, such as ”user rights” to frequency bands or access to an energy facility such as a gas storage or a power plant.

Spectrum auctions are prime examples of high stake auctions. The US Federal Commission of Communication was the first to use auctions in the mid 1990s to sell the right to use frequency bands. The seller is the government and the buyers are teleoperators that needs frequency bands (or spectrums rights) to run their business. Hereby, spectrum auction is not just about selling a highly valuable commodity; it is also a way to regulate the telecommunication industry. By carefully designed auctions, competing telecompanies are assigned spectrum rights, which define the competitive landscape between teleoperators.

Spectrum auctions have lead to some of the most advanced auctions. Typically, a spectrum auction will involves different types of frequency bands sold in bundles and priced simultaneously. Since the different type of bands may be both substitutes and complements, the pricing may be highly complex and lead to advanced coordination such as combinatorial bidding etc.

Spectrum auctions involves sealed bids to ensure a high level of information control required to facilitate proper competition among the bidders. Hereby, software based on a secure it-infrastructure is an important component.


In a consortium with the consultancy house Copenhagen Economics, Partisia has been awarded framework agreements with both the Swedish and the Norwegian Telecommunication Authorities. The framework agreements involves all aspects from designing and developing to operating spectrum auctions.

As an example, Partisia’s High Stake Auction tailored for the Norwegian 1800 MHz Spectrum Auction has been used to trade spectrum rights for a total of NOK 877.983.276 over the course of 7 days and 83 bidding rounds in December 2015.