TV airwaves may go to wireless carriers

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WASHINGTON, Feb. 29 (UPI) — A new U.S. law could result in fewer TV stations on the air in exchange for faster wireless data services for smartphones and tablet computers, officials say.

The law, attached to a payroll tax package signed by President Barack Obama last week, gives the Federal Communications Commission authority to explore such an exchange, CBS News reported Wednesday.

Under rules the FCC will formulate in coming months, broadcast television, which has few viewers, would be squeezed into a smaller slice of the airwaves and the bandwidth freed up would be available for bidding by companies.

Television broadcasters would be given an opportunity to decide whether they want to give up their frequencies, and those that do so could continue to operate as cable-only channels.

Bidding for the freed airwaves would likely not begin until late 2013 or early 2014, officials said, partly to give bidders time to raise funds to pay for any spectrum they might win in the expected bandwidth auction.

Spencer Cameron

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