The winning bidder will be required to offer some free wireless Internet access in the U.S.
Google has bowed out of the auction, leaving a significant portion of the analog TV band to Verizon and AT&T.
"There has been very little interest in that spectrum, and it has been underutilized," FCC spokesman Robert Kenny said, adding that the spectrum currently is used in point-to-point internal communications in areas such as construction and taxicab transmissions.
There is a catch for carriers: They will be required to offer the free wireless Internet without perceived obscene or adult content.
"The highest bidder for the spectrum would be responsible for building out the network and would have to make it available for free to 50 percent of the population within four years," FCC Commissioner Kevin Martin said. "In addition, the top bidder will have to reach 95 percent of the U.S. population within 10 years."
Another FCC requirement calls for content filtering on the free service to prevent minors from accessing adult sites.
Reed Lee, a member of the boards of the Free Speech Coalition and the First Amendment Lawyer's Association, told AVN Online that he opposes the proposal because of its filtering requirement.
"One major problem I have with the proposal is that it promotes - indeed, requires - channel filtering, the worst kind of all," he said. "From the point of view of a free-expression enthusiast, one of the greatest things about the Internet - so far - is that it makes channel filtering impossible as a practical matter. I would oppose anything which encourages channel controllers to do it, either by changing the Internet or by researching ways to do it as is."
From a free-speech perspective, Lee said, destination filtering is perfectly legitimate.
"My right to speak does not require you to listen," he said. "If you block me, I remain free to speak to those who are willing to listen.
"The one time the Supreme Court mentioned this - in the [Communications Decency Act] case or one of the [ Child Online Protection Act] cases, if I remember correctly - it suggested the same thing. Source filtering places the burden of permitting a person not to listen on the speaker. This makes speaking more expensive, and if the stakes are high enough, such as the Playboy Entertainment case, it amounts to a chilling effect."
Lee said the cost should be shifted from the potential listener to the speaker, with the filtering burden falling on the recipient.