Upton 'likely' to include spectrum auctions in telecom bill

House Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) says he is "likely" to support a proposal by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to free up communications airspace for wireless devices.

"Finding additional spectrum to auction for broadband will be a priority this year," Upton said in an e-mailed statement. "Among other things, legislation will likely include voluntary incentive auctions." 

His remark comes after Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Julius Genachowski expressed uncertainty about whether Congress would give him authority to move on the auctions, a top priority for the agency this year. 

The auctions would offer incentives to broadcasters to sell off their portions of the spectrum, so more airwaves can be dedicated to mobile broadband. 

The proposal has garnered bipartisan support, as well as strong backing from the wireless and technology industries. Broadcasters have expressed concern about how the auctions will be structured and whether they will truly be voluntary. 

In his remark, Upton described spectrum policy as an asset to job creation.

"Our efforts on spectrum will not only promote broadband, but jumpstart the economy, create jobs, and generate significant revenue for American taxpayers," he said.