The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has confirmed that four separate T-Mobile USA subsidiaries will be allowed to participate in its forthcoming ‘Mobility Fund Phase One’ auction, which seeks to spread mobile broadband coverage to rural parts of the country. The decision follows a petition filed by T-Mobile on behalf of four of its wholly owned subsidiaries, requesting that they be conditionally designated with eligible telecommunications carrier (ETC) status. The companies in question are PowerTel/Memphis (covering Alabama and Tennessee), T-Mobile Central (covering Alabama), T-Mobile South (covering Florida and North Carolina), and T-Mobile Northeast (covering New Hampshire, New York and Virginia).
Summing up its decision, the FCC commented: ‘We find that T-Mobile’s participating in universal service programmes in areas in which it becomes authorised to receive Mobility Fund Phase One support should provide a variety of benefits to consumers including mobile voice and current or next generation broadband access … Enabling otherwise qualified parties to participate in this process may encourage more aggressive auction competition, thus lowering bids and permitting greater mobile coverage with the limited amount of support available in Phase One of the Mobility Fund. We further find T-Mobile has deployed an advanced communications network that should make it capable of delivering supported services thought any area for which it becomes authorised to receive Mobility Fund support, consistent with the goals of Mobility Fund Phase One’.
Applications to participate in the initiative were opened on 27 June, with the final deadline for applicants set at 11 July. Under the terms of the Mobility Fund, the FCC will distribute up to USD300 million in one-time support fees to carriers that agree to provide 3G or Long Term Evolution (LTE) services in areas that do not currently have mobile voice and broadband coverage. The fund is part of the Connect America Fund (CAF) that the FCC introduced in November 2011 as a way of overhauling its outdated universal service and intercarrier compensation systems. Phase Two of the Mobility Fund is expected to provide an additional USD500 million for the ongoing support of rural mobile services.