U.S. Cellular, T-Mobile USA, and Allied Wireless are among the winners of a government reverse auction that has awarded $300 million to carriers pledging to bring 3G and 4G service to underserved areas. “As a result of the auction, new mobile infrastructure deployment will begin in 31 states with areas that currently lack access to 3G or 4G mobile service,” said Federal Communications Chairman Julius Genachowski.
The $300 million is part of the FCC Mobility Fund, which the agency says it created by cutting “waste and inefficiency” from its Universal Service Program. The FCC says the fund will also provide $500 million a year for “ongoing support” of mobile services, but did not say whether those funds would all go to the companies that have won contracts this week.
Thirty-eight companies submitted a total of 900 bids. The nation’s three largest carriers, Verizon Wireless, AT&T, and Sprint Nextel, did not bid. A full list of the winners is posted on the FCC’s website. Winning companies must complete their rollouts within three years, and must make their networks available to other carriers for roaming.
While the FCC initiative will increase coverage, it will not mean that the entire United States will enjoy 3G coverage. Many areas in the western half of the country will still have little or no cell service. Communications Daily’s Matthew Schwartz has created a graphic illustrating this point.
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