Supercommittee members urge Obama to auction off spectrum

Four members of the congressional supercommittee urged President Obama Friday to reallocate some federal government spectrum for commercial use to help generate revenue for reducing the deficit.

Popular data-hungry smartphones and tablet computers continue to increase demand for spectrum, the airwaves that devices use to transmit signals.

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In their letter to the president, Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.) and Sen. Patrick Toomey (R-Pa.) said they support incentivizing television broadcasters to give up their spectrum for auction. Obama included incentive auctions in his American Jobs Act.

"But we believe that those auctions will not produce all the spectrum we need to meet our country’s growing demand for broadband," the lawmakers wrote.

They urged the president to require agencies to make more efficient use of their spectrum and reallocate some government spectrum for commercial auctions.

"Spectrum auctions would generate tens of billions of dollars in auction proceeds, help the Select Committee meet its deficit reduction goals, stimulate billions in private-sector capital investment, provide a job-creating boost to the economy, and ensure that America continues to lead the world in wireless broadband innovation," they wrote.

The auctions could raise billions of dollars in revenue for the government as wireless carriers compete to nab more spectrum. 

In particular, the lawmakers said the government should reallocate spectrum below 3 GHz in large enough blocks to support wireless broadband within the next 10 years. 

The lawmakers requested a response from the president by Oct. 14.