In October 2010, the FCC proposed the creation of a new Mobility Fund, which will provide one-time support to accelerate our nation's ongoing efforts to close gaps in mobile wireless service. In April 2011, the FCC issued a Public Notice that seeks comment about Tribal issues relating to the establishment of a Mobility Fund.
While mobile wireless providers have expanded and upgraded their networks so that third generation, or "3G," networks are available in many areas of the country, millions of Americans still live, work, and travel in areas where these advanced networks have not built out. The proposed Mobility Fund would help improve coverage in these areas for current-generation or better mobile wireless services.
The Mobility Fund Notice of Proposed Rulemaking(NPRM) proposes to support the Mobility Fund using a portion of Universal Service Funding (USF) voluntarily relinquished by Verizon Wireless and Sprint. Those funds had been helping support service in areas that, at least in some cases, were being served by other mobile carriers. Under the Mobility Fund, a portion of these funds will instead be distributed on a one-time basis using a market-based mechanism to target consumers in areas without advanced mobile services, ensuring that America gets the most bang for the USF buck.
The Mobility Fund NPRM proposes to:
- Use $100 million to $300 million from the USF to create the Mobility Fund.
- Identify the areas unserved by 3G mobile wireless services.
- Use a reverse auction – in which the potential providers of services in identified areas without 3G service compete for support from the Mobility Fund by proposing the lowest amount of USF support they would require to serve areas that are currently unserved – to determine which providers get support, which specific geographic areas will receive support, and at what levels.
The Mobility Fund NPRM seeks comment on:
- Whether to make support available to any unserved area in the nation or to target support by making it available in a limited set of unserved areas.
- Minimum performance and coverage requirements that should be established for the service to be supported by the Mobility Fund.