New law could free up TV airwaves for mobile use

NEW YORK (AP) ? A new law could result in fewer TV stations on the air, in exchange for faster wireless data services for smartphones and tablet computers.

The Federal Communications Commission will have to write the rules for it in the coming months.

The idea is to squeeze over-the-air television, which has few viewers, into a smaller slice of the airwaves. Anything freed would be available for bidding by companies.

Broadcasters will need to decide whether they want to give up their frequencies. Those that do could continue to operate as cable-only channels if they don’t want to go out of business. Bidding for freed airwaves likely won’t begin until late 2013 or early 2014, partly to give bidders time to raise money to pay for any spectrum they win.