Electronics group urges supercommittee to authorize spectrum auctions

"This pro-growth, bipartisan policy would bring billions in revenue to the United States Treasury, while advancing innovation and spurring economic growth," wrote Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of the CEA, in a letter to Sen. Patty MurrayPatty MurrayA guide to the committees: Senate Overnight Healthcare: Trump officials weigh fate of birth control mandate | House, DOJ seek delay in ObamaCare lawsuit Top lawmakers from both parties: 'Vaccines save lives' MORE (D-Wash.) and Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), the heads of the supercommittee.

Under spectrum auctions, the Federal Communications Commission would encourage television broadcasters to give up the portions of public airwaves they currently control. The government would then auction that spectrum, likely to wireless carriers, splitting some of the revenue with the broadcasters who gave up their spectrum. 

According to the CEA letter, spectrum auctions could raise between $24.5 billion and $33 billion for the government.

The CEA represents more than 2,000 electronics companies, including AT&T, Verizon, Best Buy, Target and Google.

"Spectrum is the lifeblood of our industry, and a major catalyst for new technologies and new jobs," Shaprio wrote.

"Over the last decade, wireless broadband has become an indispensible [sic] platform for communications and commerce. New spectrum for unlicensed and licensed mobile broadband services is essential in light of the escalating consumer demand to access the Internet anywhere and at any time."

The broadcasters say they support incentive auctions in theory, but argue there must be strong protections to ensure the auctions are truly voluntary and that no television station is forced out of business.

President Obama included spectrum auctions in the jobs bill he presented to Congress last week.