Carolina West has been awarded a $20.7 million grant from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to expand its wireless Internet coverage over the next two years.
Carolina West was one of 33 winning companies and subsidiaries that competed in America’s first “Mobility Fund” auction, which gave nearly $300 million to mobile service carriers to expand wireless Internet coverage.
“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 healthcare opportunities of America’s world-leading economy,” said FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski.
Companies as large as T-Mobile and as small as Pine Belt Cellular, Inc. (located in Alabama) competed in the Mobility Fund auction, said the FCC’s website.
According to the FCC, new mobile infrastructure deployment will begin in 31 states with areas that currently lack access to 3G or 4G mobile service thanks to this auction. This will bring the 1.7 million Americans who do not have wireless Internet access up to date with the rest of the country, said the FCC.
The FCC also said “up to 83,000 new U.S. road miles, on which millions of Americans live, work, or travel, will gain access to advanced mobile networks that significantly enhance opportunities for jobs, education, healthcare and public safety.”
Of the 83,000 road miles that will be impacted by the Mobile Fund auction, Carolina West covers 594 road miles in the surrounding area, all of which will receive a boost in wireless Internet coverage, according to statistics submitted by the FCC.
According to a press release sent by the FCC, the Mobility Fund auction used an “innovative, market-based competition to distribute funding,” the first time such an auction had been run in the United States.
Carriers competed against other across the country, and the winners were chosen based on the lowest cost-per-mile bids to extend coverage to unserved roads. “This will maximize the impact of the new funding to speed deployment to the greatest number of unserved areas,” said the FCC’s press release.
According the FCC website, this auction is just the first step in the FCC’s new effort to provide support to accelerate mobile deployment.
“The Commission will provide an additional $50 million in one-time support to Tribal Lands and $500 million annually for ongoing support to mobile services in the second phase of the Mobility Fund,” said the FCC’s website.
The funding for the Mobility Fund will come from a “once-in-a-generation” reform that cut $300 million of waste and inefficiency from the Universal Service Program, according to the FCC’s press release.
The press release also said this effort marks the first time in history the FCC has made universal mobile service an express goal.
“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,” said Genachowski.