Swedish 3G contest
Locally (Sweden) we had a contest to see which 3G operators would give the best service before licences were granted. I remember a great deal of whining from one operator in particular that expected to be guaranteed a slot but didn't get it.
Coverage is still not what was promised by the winners, but I don't think anybody in the business is surprised about that. International operators tend to spread their costs over different countries anyway, so that is probably not the advantage for the locals as is sometimes made out either.
Though I do think that a contest is probably a better solution than an all-in auction; in either case reality is messier than the shiny Power Point slides shown in the various workshops and conferences leading up to any decision.
Finally, for those who haven't enough to do, there's a thesis available comparing the UK auction and the Swedish contest: http://www.managementheaven.com/comparison-swedish-3g-beauty-contest-uk-3g-auction/