The FCC chairman is hoping to free up a section of the wireless spectrum in an effort to make room for wireless broadband Internet.

Julius Genachowski said the commission's national broadband plan will call for freeing up 500 MHz of spectrum over the next decade for mobile broadband use, saying expanded wireless Internet could make the US more technologically competitive.

The Mobile Future Auction would allow broadcasters to elect to participate in a mechanism that could save costs for broadcasters while also being a major part of the solution to one of our country's most significant challenges, Genachowski said.

The plan, expected to be made public next month, will allow broadcasters to voluntarily give up spectrum in exchange for a share of auction proceeds. It will also propose allowing spectrum sharing and other spectrum efficiency measures.

Speaking at the New America Foundation think tank, Genachowski explained that the spectrum used for television was not being used efficiently, indeed, much is not being used at all.

In markets with less than 1 million people, only 36 MHz of the 300 MHz allotted for broadcasters is being used, and that in the largest markets, only about 150 MHz is used he said.

It typically takes quite some time from the beginning to the end of [an FCC] strategic spectrum reallocation process, he said. But the clock is ticking on our country's mobile broadband leadership opportunity and our global competitiveness challenge, and we have to get started.

The chairman is also seeking to update the 20th century spectrum policies, removing barriers to broadband buildout, lowering the costs of deployment and promoting competition.

The commission will deliver its national broadband plan to Congress March 17.