FCC to help fund wireless service rollout to rural areas across the US

fcc-map-of-rural-areas-that-need-wirelessDespite the United States being a leader in 4G LTE adoption and one of the most developed countries in the world, a good portion of our fair country still doesn’t have access to broadband Internet or wireless data services. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) wants to fix this problem and has $300 million to do it. Earlier this week, the agency released the map above, credited to its Mobility Fund, which will help dole out the millions fairly.

Here’s how it’s going to work. Wireless carriers, MVNOs, and other eligible providers will all participate in a “reverse auction” for the black areas on this map, which include large portions of western states like Idaho, California Nevada, New Mexico, Arizona, and a smattering of eastern states like West Virginia and Maine. Service providers will approach the FCC with plans to cover an area and bid against one another to be the lowest-priced bidder for that area. Those who win bids to provide service to select areas (in exchange for $$) must deploy 3G service within two years or 4G service within three years of winning the award, reports Computerworld. Winners must also provide coverage to at least 75 percent of the road miles in each census tract they bid and win on. There are other, technical stipulations as well. 

“For too many, dead zones in mobile coverage are too common, and today’s action will help close those gaps,” said FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski. “By using market-based mechanisms, we’ll ensure more gaps in mobile coverage are closed, and that every dollar is spent wisely and efficiently.”

Overall, this money, while not the billions that AT&T or Verizon are spending on their LTE networks, should help a lot of people in need of good wireless service. It’s easy to forget about those in more rural areas when you cover technology, but a good portion of our country hasn’t made the leap to suitable forms of Internet. Anything that helps change this, is good.

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