A $300 million program that will close service gaps in national 3G and 4G data service coverage now has contractors to build the networks, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced Oct. 3. Of 38 applicants and nearly 900 bids, the FCC chose winners of the first Mobility Fund Auction, which are required to complete their projects within three years and allow other providers roaming access to their networks so as to provide benefit to the greatest number of consumers.
“For too many, dead zones in mobile Internet coverage are too common and today’s winners will help the U.S. close those gaps. But today’s real winners are the American people, millions of whom will soon have greater access to the job, education and health-care opportunities of America’s world-leading mobile economy. Over the last few years, the U.S. has regained global leadership in mobile innovation – and today’s successful auction will help our nation maintain that leadership in the 21st century,” FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said.
On the FCC website, a map of winning bids with corresponding service areas shows contracts with large coverage areas in eastern New Mexico, western Nebraska and Wyoming, along with contracts in 31 total states that cover 83,000 road miles. Alaska received 305 winning bids, many covering small, remote areas where cellular service is not yet available. Winning contractors include T-Mobile and U.S. Cellular, as well as many smaller providers.
“This auction is just the first step in the commission’s new effort to provide support to accelerate mobile deployment,” an FCC press release reads. The FCC will provide an additional $50 million for supporting mobile coverage in tribal lands and an additional $500 million annually to continue support of the Mobility Fund and begin the second stage of the project.
An interactive map of awarded contracts and their associated areas can be found on the FCC website.