In early 2018, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced 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 established eligible areas of the country that allow auction participants to bid for the opportunity to add wireless broadband service and issued maps of eligible and ineligible areas of the United States. 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 could be challenged using a specific FCC-designed process. RISD acted as a conduit for submissions to help ensure as little duplication of effort as possible, and the final challenges were submitted on November 26, 2018.
As a result of the testing done in New Hampshire and other states, the FCC opened an investigation into the accuracy of carrier maps that the FCC used as the foundation for its eligibility maps. That investigation is ongoing, and can be followed here:
Meetings and Events:
FCC Mobility Fund II Challenge F.A.Q.:
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 were acceptable to use for this project?
Only the specific phone make and model by carrier included in the attached list (DA-18-582A2) were accepted for use in this test. Test results captured on any handset other than those the carrier has specified were rejected by the FCC.
I’m interested in making tests for my own purposes. Can I use my own cell phone?
If you have an Android phone, you can download the software that we used and conduct testing on your own. The software is G-Net Track PRO.
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.
What was the funding source for this project?
New Hampshire’s testing was funded entirely by the cities, towns, counties, regional development commissions and chambers of commerce in interested regions. AT&T and Sprint also donated some resources. The total budget was less than $12,000.