Feeds

FCC turns auction upside down for $300m rural 3G broadband

Build it cheap, and they will come

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

A US regulator is proposing a reverse auction to attain national broadband, providing $300m to the company that claims to be able to do the most with the cash pot.

"Auction 901" won't start until September 27, but the FCC has published an interactive map showing which areas of the US are still lacking wireless coverage so potential bidders can start working out how far they could extend their reach for $300m, with the contract going to the company that promises to connect up the most people.

This is a new approach for the FCC. Rural provision of fixed voice has always been achieved from the Universal Service Fund, which pays companies to companies providing ADSL service to remote regions. But that mechanism provides no incentive for cost reduction, and the FCC reckons that achieving "3G or better" mobile coverage is more efficiently achieved with a reverse auction.

Details of how the auction will be run are still up for debate, and the proposal [PDF, long] seeks feedback on various aspects of the auction, but also establishes the date and ultimate aim of Auction 901.

This is only Phase I of the new approach, intended for capital investment in the necessary infrastructure; Phase II will provide $500m in annual running costs.

Bidders will have to show they have enough radio spectrum, and the necessary skills, to run the network. They'll also have to provide roaming agreements and be able to build the whole thing within two years (for 3G - 4G networks get an additional year to deploy).

But the whole $300m probably won't go to one company, though the exact aggregation of blocks is one of the subjects on which the FCC is seeking feedback. The big players will probably take some cash to extend their networks into the larger not-spots but there are some black squares that only cover 10 or 15 people, or a few miles of road, where more innovative technologies might be applicable. ®

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
YOU are the threat: True confessions of real-life sysadmins
Who will save the systems from the men and women who save the systems from you?
Download alert: Nearly ALL top 100 Android, iOS paid apps hacked
Attack of the Clones? Yeah, but much, much scarier – report
Broadband sellers in the UK are UP TO no good, says Which?
Speedy network claims only apply to 10% of customers
Virgin Media struck dumb by NATIONWIDE packet loss balls-up
Turning it off and on again fixes glitch 12 HOURS LATER
Fujitsu CTO: We'll be 3D-printing tech execs in 15 years
Fleshy techie disses network neutrality, helmet-less motorcyclists
Facebook, working on Facebook at Work, works on Facebook. At Work
You don't want your cat or drunk pics at the office
Soz, web devs: Google snatches its Wallet off the table
Killing off web service in 3 months... but app-happy bonkers are fine
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence
Download Choosing a Cloud Hosting Provider with Confidence to learn more about cloud computing - the new opportunities and new security challenges.
New hybrid storage solutions
Tackling data challenges through emerging hybrid storage solutions that enable optimum database performance whilst managing costs and increasingly large data stores.