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Apple, Samsung and others suggest Congress tap federal spectrum to ease 'fiscal cliff'

A group of mobile device makers including Apple, Samsung and RIM, sent a letter to top Congressional leaders asking for the allotment of additional operating spectrum dedicated to smartphones and tablets.

In the letter signed by the High Tech Spectrum Coalition (HTSC), which includes Apple, Alcatel-Lucent, Cisco, Ericsson, Intel, Nokia, Qualcomm, RIM and Samsung, the group pushed for additional spectrum, or airwaves used by cellular carriers, from certain government-held assets, reports The Hill.

Despite ongoing FTC efforts to enact a law that will liberate some spectrum currently used by TV stations, the device makers said more is needed.

"Authorizing new spectrum auctions is timely and relevant," the group said, referring to the so-called "fiscal cliff" of automatic government spending cuts and tax increases expected to hit at the stroke of midnight on Dec. 31, 2012.

Instead of holding on to unused spectrum, Congress should "become more efficient" and share, vacate or lease the assets to U.S. telecoms, the companies said.

"Now is the time to ensure the incentive auctions are as robust and successful as possible at liberating spectrum," the group wrote. "We should also turn our collective attention on ways to reap the economic benefits of underutilized federal spectrum assets."

According to the letter, the coalition joined the debate because policymakers "need to know that [the tech companies] cannot simply engineer [their] way out of this problem."