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Mobility fund auction winners to receive $300 million to extend mobile service

The FCC has named the winners of its first mobility fund auction that assigns support of some $300 million from government coffers to accelerate the availability of mobile Internet service across the United States.

The auction will result in deployment of new mobile infrastructure in portions of 31 states that currently don’t have 3G or 4G mobile service. As a result, up to 83,000 new miles along the nation’s roadways will get access to advanced mobile networks.

“For too many, dead zones in mobile Internet coverage are too common – and today’s winners will help the U.S. close those gaps,” said FCC chairman Julius Genachowski. “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.”

Nearly 900 bids were submitted from 38 companies and subsidiaries participating in the auctions. Auction winners have three years to complete their projects. The rules of the auction also require them to make their networks available to other providers for roaming.

Among the winning companies are large providers like T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular and smaller carriers like Pine Belt Cellular in Alabama, and VTel Wireless in Vermont. 

The FCC also will provide an additional $50 million in one-time support to Tribal Lands and $500 million annually for ongoing support to mobile services in Phase II of Mobility Fund. The funds come from savings the commission realized last year as a result of its reform of its Universal Services Fund.