FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski wants Congress to give the agency the authority to conduct incentive auctions, in which current broadcast spectrum licensees could receive compensation for voluntarily relinquishing their spectrum for FCC auction.

The incentive auctions will release bandwidth needed to address the country's looming spectrum deficit, which the FCC estimates will reach 300 MHz by 2014, according to a white paper released Thursday.

"Incentive auctions are a big idea, but our spectrum challenges are so great, and the stakes for our economy so high, that we must proceed on many fronts to seize the opportunities of spectrum," Genachowski said in a transcript of a speech given at the agency's spectrum summit yesterday.

The FCC estimates auctions of mobile broadband spectrum could raise up to $120 billion.

Genachowski will introduce a proposal to lift technical restrictions on broadcast spectrum at the FCC's next open meeting in November. The proposal will lay the groundwork for incentive auctions by allowing broadcast spectrum to be used for wireless broadband services.

He will also ask the agency to consider a proposal to expand its experimental licensing program by easing testing restrictions on research groups, which are developing new services and devices that use spectrum.

Finally, Genachowski will ask for a notice of inquiry into underused spectrum. The agency wants to find ways to ensure spectrum is being used efficiently by licensees.