RISD is assisting residents and towns that wish to participate in the challenge process to ensure that the upcoming Mobility Fund II Auction includes areas that lack adequate wireless broadband service. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has established a Mobility Fund Phase II (MF-II) auction that will provide up to $4.53 billion in support over 10 years to primarily rural areas that lack unsubsidized 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) service. For more information about the MF-II fund and auction, see the FCC pages at https://www.fcc.gov/mobility-fund-phase-ii-mf-ii.
The FCC has established eligible areas of the country that allow auction participants to bid for the opportunity to add wireless broadband service. These maps indicate that most of New Hampshire currently has LTE capability, which presumes download speeds of 5MB and upload speeds of 2MB. The areas that are currently defined as ineligible due to existing service can be challenged using a specific FCC-designed process. RISD plans to act as a conduit for submissions to help ensure as little duplication of effort as possible.
If you want to receive emails about town and region plans to participate in the FCC Mobility Challenge testing process, please send your name and email address to:
What is broadband service and what type of broadband does this Challenge address?
The Mobility Fund (II) addresses broadband over cell phones. For the purposes of this project, “broadband” is defined as 5Mb data download 1Mb upload.
What cell phones / handsets are acceptable to use for this project?
Final FCC list of acceptable handsets by make and model
Please note that ONLY the specific phone make and model by carrier included in the attached list (DA-18-582A2) will be accepted for use in this test. Test results captured on any handset other than those the carrier has specified will be rejected by the FCC.
Our town doesn’t have access to any of the phones listed by the carrier(s) in town. Is there any way we can get accepted phones for the test?
The State of NH can’t pay for these phones or additional lines and data service for the test. However, we do have a plan and budget to create three sets of phones and plans that can be shared across participating towns in three regions – Northwest NH, Southwest NH and Lakes Region/Northeast NH. Currently various state and local agencies are seeking funds to acquire and share these test-acceptable handsets for local testing.
Here is a pro forma budget showing an estimated $7,000 expenditure required to fund an aggressive test campaign in the state’s under-served wireless areas.
Can I use my own cell phone?
Personal cell phone use: If you have access to an existing plan on a compliant phone with one of the carriers we are testing, and you are willing to pay for the necessary data, please, feel free to use your personal cell phone.
If we spend a lot of time and effort collecting data that shows our service is slow or non-existent, won’t it just be our word against that of the big carriers?
If the tests we run are completed in strict compliance with FCC Challenge rules (right handset, right software, 75% test coverage of challenged areas), then the FCC will consider the carriers’ claims challenged and consider the successfully-challenged areas eligible for grant money. At that point, the burden of proof to the contrary shifts back to the carriers.
Let’s say we do the testing and come up with proof that much of our town or region is under-served and we submit that data to the FCC. What then?
The carriers may challenge our results. We anticipate that we can successfully navigate a carrier challenge by ensuring that our data is collected in strict compliance with the FCC’s guidelines. New Hampshire towns and areas that become eligible through the challenge process will be in competition with all other towns and regions in the country that are considered eligible.
Where does the $4.5 billion that the FCC will be spending over ten years come from?
From the 6.34% federal universal service fund charge on all wireless service (cellphone) bills. This fund was established initially, before widespread availability of wireless service, to help schools, libraries, hospitals and income-eligible individuals in rural or high-cost areas get essential wired telecommunications service through subsidies to carriers paid by the fund. The FCC Mobility Fund II was established in August, 2017 to upgrade mobile wireless voice and internet infrastructure in under-served areas.
Which test results are acceptable?
Only certified results will be accepted by the FCC. The FCC’s test requirements state that every speed test intended for submission to the FCC must “be substantiated by the certification of a qualified engineer, under penalty of perjury. For challengers that are governmental entities and do not have a qualified engineer available to certify, we will allow certification by a government official authorized to act on bealf of the organization and with actual knowledge of the accuracy of the underlying data.” Our interpretation is that volunteer testing will be difficult to stage given the need for a government (town, county or state) official “with actual knowledge of the accuracy of the underlying data” to sign off on the results. If the validity of test data or the status of the certifier is challenged, the results could be rejected by the FCC.
What is the funding source for this project?
We are currently seeking funding sources. The Public Utilities Commission is unable to fund the purchase of recommended phones and data plans, although individuals and agencies at the local, state and federal level are looking into potential funding sources.
What test software is acceptable?
The FCC has not yet issued a mandatory or optional list of accepted cell performance rating software. The PUC is exploring drive-time software options and will make recommendations shortly.