By Brendan Sasso - 12/07/11 07:50 PM EST
The spectrum is potentially worth billions of dollars to wireless carriers, which are struggling to meet the growing data demands of smartphones and tablet computers.
In a concession to Democrats, the bill also allocates the D block of spectrum to create a nationwide public-safety network. The network would allow first-responders to communicate using video and other data during emergencies and would help officials from different agencies communicate with each other.
Auctioning spectrum has become a hot issue on Capitol Hill in recent months.
The Senate version of the spectrum bill, S. 911, cleared the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee in June but has not come up for a vote in the full Senate. There was speculation that the deficit-reduction supercommittee would include spectrum language in a possible deal before those talks collapsed. And President Obama included spectrum provisions in his jobs bill, though Congress has not acted on them.