By Brendan Sasso - 01/16/12 07:49 PM EST
The proposed law would authorize the FCC to auction airwaves, or spectrum, that currently belong to television broadcasters, splitting some of the revenue with the stations that choose to participate.
The spectrum is potentially worth billions of dollars to wireless carriers like AT&T and T-Mobile, which are struggling to meet the growing data demands of smartphones and tablet computers.
FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski argues that Congress should not prevent his agency from imposing conditions to ensure that the auctions do not enable the largest carriers to consolidate their control of the airwaves and squelch competition.
AT&T and Verizon are the largest national carriers, and T-Mobile is the smallest.
AT&T announced plans to buy T-Mobile for $39 billion in March 2011, but opposition from the Justice Department and the FCC forced the companies to abandon the deal last month.