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Licensing Policy for 3G

One of the major issues for the introduction of third generation services is the choice of the licensing method, e.g.  first-come first-served, lotteries, comparative bidding (beauty contest), auctions.  Each one of these methods has a number of variations. 

Recently, mobile operators have had to pay phenomenal rents in auctions for 3G licenses, particularly in Europe. The United Kingdom, for instance, raised 33 billion USD in its April 2000 auction and Germany followed suit at 47.5 billion USD in its 3G auction later that year.  Finland, on the other hand, awarded four licenses at no cost to the operators on the basis of comparative bidding. As such, there is a wide disparity in license fees and methods across markets.  This raises a number of issues related to market structure, pricing and service development. 


Licensing & Deployment Updates

ITU IMT-2000 License Allocation Table, xls  
(Last Update:  12 September 2001)

UMTS Forum: Licensing Overview

CDG (CDMA Development Group) - CDMA 2000 Deployment Database

3G licenses - list from

European 3G Auction Guide from the Financial Times


Hot Links   


Mckinsey for the European Commission, Comparative assessment of the licensing regimes for 3G mobile communications in the European Union and their impact on the mobile communication sector [Annex: ], June 2002

Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions - Towards the Full Roll-Out of Third Generation Mobile Communications, March 2002

Communication from the European Commission, The Introduction of 3G Mobile Communications in the EU:  State of Play and the Way Forward , 20 March 2001

European Commission, Comparative assessment of the licensing regimes for 3G mobile communications in the European Union and their impact on the mobile communication sector, Annex, June 2002

Talk by the International Telecommunications User Group (INTUG), Licensing 3G in Europe: The User's View, Dec 2000

INTUG, Europe Position Paper on 3G Mobile, March 2001

Licensing Framework for 3G Mobile Services, OFTA (Hong Kong), March 2000

Other Papers

Endogenous Sunk Costs in the Market for Mobile Telecommunications: The Role of Licence Fees, Harald Gruber, European Investment Bank, June 2002  

Wireless Internet access: 3G vs. WiFi, William Lehr, MIT & Columbia University/ Lee McKnight, Syracuse University, ITS Europe 2002  

The European UMTS/IMT-2000 License Auctions , P. Jehiel and B. Moldovanu, University of Mannheim, January 2001

Licensing Third Generation Mobile , John Ure, University of Hong Kong, February 2001

Spectrum Auctions and Efficient Resource Allocation: Learning from the 3G Experience in Europe, William H. Melody, Telecom Reform (, April 2001

On the design and implementation of the GSM auction in Nigeria - the world’s first ascending clock spectrum auction, Chris Doyle and Paul McShane,Charles River Associates August 2001

What really matters in auction design, P. Klemperer, Oxford University Discussion Paper, Revised February 2001

  How (not) to run auctions: The European 3G Telecom Auctions, P. Klemperer, November 2001 (forthcoming in European Economic Review, 2002)

Does auctioning of entry licences induce collusion?  An experimental study, T. Offerman and J. Potters, University of Amsterdam and Tilburg University, March 2001

Are Spectrum Auctions ruining our granchildren's future? M. Cave and T. Valletti, INFO, August 2000

Why every economist should learn some auction theory, P. Klemperer, Paper presented at the World Congress of the Econometric Society, July 2000

License Auctions and Market Structure , P. Jehiel and B. Moldovanu, University of Mannheim, July 2000

The evolution of markets under entry and standards regulation - the case of global mobile telecommunications, H. Gruber (EIB) & F. Verboven (Univ. of Leuven), CEPR Working Paper (Revised), 2000

Collusive bidding: Lessons from the FCC Spectrum Auctions, P. Crampton and J. Schwartz, Journal of Regulatory Economics, May 2000

Competitive bidding in auctions with private and common values, J. Goeree and T. Offerman, University of Virginia and University of Amsterdam, November 1999



ITU Workshop on Licensing of 3G Mobile (Geneva, 19-21 September 2001)   


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Updated : 2011-04-04