Legislation recently introduced in the House of Representatives that would give the Federal Communications Commission the authority to conduct voluntary incentive auctions would not limit the commission’s ability to reband frequencies to create contiguous broadband spectrum swaths, according a staff member for bill sponsor Rep. Bob Latta (R-Ohio).

Latta’s bill would let the FCC conduct incentive auctions, which would allow incumbent spectrum licensees to receive a portion of the proceeds realized from an auction of spectrum vacated by a licensee — a strategy that FCC officials hope to employ as they try to address a spectrum shortage being created by increasing bandwidth demands from customers using smartphones, tablets and other mobile computing devices.

However, a clause in the bill states that the commission would not be allowed to “reclaim frequencies of broadcast television licensees directly or indirectly on an involuntary basis,” causing some to question whether the legislation would hinder the FCC’s ability to mandate licensees to shift operations to new spectrum, so nationwide contiguous airwaves swaths would be available to auction.

“The bill just simply says the FCC needs more freedom and needs to be allowed to have incentive auctions,” Latta spokeswoman Izzy Santa said, noting that the bill would not hinder the commission’s ability to repack frequencies. “They can repackage [under the legislation].”

Although the bill has not been put on the calendar yet, Santa said she expects the bill to be considered by a House subcommittee during the next three weeks.