The Federal Communications Commission on Friday gave the first go-ahead to television broadcasters who want to voluntarily release wireless spectrum to be auctioned off to cellphone companies and used for expanding wireless data and Internet services.
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In the incentive spectrum auction, which the FCC cleared via unanimous vote, those television companies would get a yet-undecided amount of the auction proceeds. Auction rules and other details will be sorted out in the coming months, the New York Times reports.
These incentive spectrum auctions have been in the works for years and are a priority of the current FCC chair, Julius Genachowski. Genachowski has previously argued the auctions will free up badly-needed spectrum for the rapidly increasing number of connected mobile devices on the market. The FCC estimates that mobile 3G, 4G and LTE traffic could increase by as much as 35 times over the next three years.
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However, don't expect the auctions to start any time soon: the FCC said the absolute soonest this will happen is 2014.
The FCC has estimated the auctions could generate as much as $15 billion, about half of which will be used to build a dedicated nationwide mobile network for emergency communications.
Spectrum auctions have been opposed by some television companies, which argue there's enough spectrum to go around.
For more, read the FCC's press release embedded below:
This story originally published on Mashable here.