VTel Wireless gets $2 million in FCC’s first ‘Mobility Fund Auction,’ to build out 941 more miles
FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski has announced the winners of America’s first ‘Mobility Fund’ auction. Among the recipients was VTel Wireless, Inc of Springfield, Vermont, which received $2,055,840.18. SEE COVERAGE MAP BELOW.
This market-based policy innovation was part of the Commission’s once-in-a-generation reform of the Universal Service Program last year, which allocated $300 million in savings from cutting waste and inefficiency, to a new Mobility Fund aimed at closing gaps in mobile coverage across the US. The effort marks the first time in history the Commission has made universal mobile service an express universal service goal.
“Vermont and VTEL worked quickly to capitalize on this opportunity to bid for federal funding to extend wireless phone service to areas of Vermont that are currently black holes for cellular phone service,” said Governor Peter Shumlin. He said the funding would help Vermont expand broadband, cellular and smart grid telecommunications capacity, adding another $2 million to the almost $60 million of federal, state, Smart Grid, and VTEL resources that are building this project.
“It was astounding to see how fast government and the private sector could work together to make opportunity a reality in telecommunications,” said Vermont National Telephone President Michel Guite, who appeared at a news conference today with the Governor and congressional representatives to announce the award. “Our mission is to support rural Vermonters, on farms and in smaller villages unserved by most of the wireless giants, and to do so at low cost and with great service. To our small company this $2 million will be tremendously helpful, and couldn’t have been done without rapid-action support from Vermont’s Department of Public Service, Public Service Board, Connect VT, and the Administration. Vermont is becoming a national leader in wired and wireless broadband innovation, and we are proud to play a small part.”
“Advances in wireless technology are vital to Vermont’s economy, and good coverage and quality are important in Vermonters’ daily lives. Rural areas have lagged the rest of the country as networks have built out broadband access and mobile phone coverage, and Vermont’s terrain also has been a longstanding factor,” said Senator Patrick Leahy. “Vermonters deserve the same 3G and 4G coverage that is available in other parts of the country. I am pleased that VTEL has won these new resources to bring us closer to full coverage in Vermont.”
Senator Bernie Sanders said, “Largely as a result of aggressive federal investment over the past few years, Vermont is well on its way to extending universal and affordable broadband to all areas of the state. This new award will get us closer to that goal, and will bring the many benefits of high-speed internet connectivity to more Vermonters, including businesses, schools, first responders, healthcare providers, and more.”
“This is great news for Vermont. In a world where broadband access means entrepreneurial opportunity, it is essential that Vermonters are not left behind,” said Representative Peter Welch. “This VTEL grant will help improve Vermont's communications infrastructure and economy, giving homes the potential to become businesses and linking entrepreneurs to the world.”
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. In total, up to 83,000 new US 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. As part of the auction rules, winning companies must complete projects within three years. They must also make their networks available to other providers for roaming so that as many consumers as possible can benefit from the new networks.
Thirty-eight companies and subsidiaries participated in the auction, submitting nearly 900 bids. Winners ranged from larger national carriers like T-Mobile and US Cellular to smaller carriers like Pine Belt Cellular, Inc in Alabama, and VTel Wireless. The Commission expects millions more in private investment to complement the auction funding. A full list of winning companies is can be found here.
This auction is just the first step in the Commission’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 Phase II of Mobility Fund. This funding all comes from savings from last year’s Universal Service reforms.
FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said, “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 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.”
CLICK HERE FOR AN INTERACTIVE MAP OF THE AREAS ACROSS THE UNITED STATES THAT WILL RECEIVE SUPPORT TO ACCELERATE 3G AND 4G MOBILE COVERAGE.
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 others across the country, and 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.
CLICK HERE TO READ THE PUBLIC NOTICE.
CLICK HERE TO SEE THE FULL LIST OF WINNERS.
Source: FCC – 10.3.2012 www.fcc.gov