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Tune UHF to cell phones, study urges

One UHF TV station licensee in each market would be encouraged to voluntarily turn over their spectrum for cellular telephone use under a recommendation made in a new FCC staff paper.

The study, done by the FCC’s office of plans and policy, concludes that there would be a “net social welfare” gain to consumers if the UHF spectrum were converted to other uses.

The authors, Evan R. Kwerel and John R. Williams, examined the public benefits of removing one UHF station from service in L.A. and granting the spectrum to cellular telephone service. The study concluded that the reallocation would result in more than a $ 1 billion increase in net social welfare.

Loss of the TV station would cost viewers and advertisers $ 139 million, the study claims. But that would be more than offset by the $ 1.196 billion in benefit to the public by having another competitor in the L.A. cellular telephone market, per the study.

The study, which has not been endorsed by any of the FCC commissioners, is designed to “spur discussion of public policy issues.”

A National Assn. of Broadcasters staffer declined comment on the report, saying that NAB “has not analyzed it in detail.”

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