The Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC’s) USD300 million ‘Mobility Fund Phase I’ auction commenced this week, Fierce Wireless reports. The auction, which will involve 54 qualified bidders, is part of a regulator-backed programme to expand mobile broadband coverage to rural and un-served areas of the country. The FCC will give up to USD300 million in one-time Mobility Fund support to carriers that agree to provide 3G or Long Term Evolution (LTE) service to areas that do not currently have mobile voice or broadband coverage. Carriers will bid for the amount of support they need to meet the Mobility Fund Phase I service and other public interest obligations in the eligible census blocks. Qualified bidders include US Cellular, several subsidiaries of T-Mobile USA, Commnet Wireless, Carolina West Wireless, GCI Communication, SI Wireless and several dozen rural operators.