WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Tom Udall announced Wednesday that three telecommunications companies will receive nearly $18 million to provide advanced mobile service to rural areas in Central and Southeastern New Mexico that currently lack 3G or 4G wireless access.
As part of the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Mobility Fund auction, Plateau Telecommunications Incorporated in Clovis, NM; Leaco Rural Telephone Cooperative in Dexter, NM and T-Mobile West will build new infrastructure to provide 3G or 4G mobile service, with projects completed in three years.
“In today’s society, we depend on reliable communication for work, travel and our day-to-day activities,” Udall said. “Improved wireless communication will greatly benefit the livelihood of those who live in these areas while providing new opportunities for businesses and economic growth.”
In total, up to 17,920 new road miles in New Mexico will gain access to advanced mobile networks that significantly enhance opportunities for jobs, education, healthcare and public safety.
“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,” FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said.
The Mobility Fund auction used a market-based competition to distribute funding, the first time such an auction had been run in the United States.
The auction was part of the Commission’s 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 country.
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.
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.