What drives spectrum prices in multi-band spectrum markets? An empirical analysis of 4G and 5G auctions in Europe Articles uri icon

publication date

  • September 2021

start page

  • 536

end page

  • 553


  • 5


  • 54

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0003-6846

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1466-4283


  • Spectrum auctions have recently experienced increased sophistication in the allocation of multi-band frequencies, with efficiency issues becoming much more complex in such scenarios. This empirical analysis seeks to identify the drivers of auction prices associated with 4G and 5G technologies in seven European countries during the period 2008–2019. This study draws on a purpose-built dataset including auction design, spectrum frequency bands at auction, bandwidth supplied to mobile operators, and characteristics of the market structure. We use panel data techniques to identify the main determinants of European spectrum auction prices in the presence of substitutability and complementarities exhibited by the preferences in multi-band spectrum markets. In this regard, we find that mobile operators pay lower auction prices if there are alternative frequency bands used for previous mobile standards and that operators perceive as substitutes. Furthermore, auction prices are higher in more concentrated markets, when more licenses are auctioned and when the CCA format is used (possibly due to the existence of complementarities).


  • Economics
  • Telecommunications


  • spectrum auction prices; 4g auction; 5g auction; multi-band spectrum auctions; combinatorial clock auctions