The FCC's spectrum auction will help open up more airwaves for data-hungry consumers.
The FCC's spectrum auction will help open up more airwaves for data-hungry consumers. - 
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The Federal Communications Commission is announcing Friday that TV stations have until Dec. 18 to decide whether they want to auction off some of their spectrum licenses to the FCC. 

The FCC will then auction them to wireless carriers and others. The idea is to open up more airwaves for data-hungry consumers.

“You’re going to be able to stream video on your mobile device and not have to worry about buffering every five minutes,” said Blair Levin, a former executive director of the FCC’s national broadband plan, now at the Brookings Institution.

What’s in it for the TV stations?

“A lot of money,” said FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler.

Wheeler said he knows some TV stations aren’t happy, because if they don’t agree to sell some spectrum, they’ll be relocated to a new part of the airwaves. The broadcasters' trade association has even filed lawsuits. But Wheeler maintains he has to balance supply and demand.

“How do you make sure that the spectrum is put to its highest and best use?” he said. Wheeler said the auction is the best answer, even if it doesn’t please everyone.