October 14, 2010                                            Matthew Nodine, 202-418-1646


Washington, D.C. – Today the Federal Communications Commission took another step in its overall reform of the Universal Service Fund (USF) by proposing the creation of a new Mobility Fund.  This Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM), consistent with a key recommendation of the National Broadband Plan, will provide one-time support to accelerate our nation’s ongoing efforts to close gaps in mobile wireless service.

Mobile wireless providers have expanded and upgraded their networks so that third generation, or “3G,” services are now widely available.  But despite providers’ efforts, millions of Americans still live, work, and travel in areas where these advanced services are unavailable.  The Mobility Fund proposed in this NPRM will help improve coverage in these areas for current-generation or better mobile wireless service, which may include 4G mobile broadband service.

The NPRM proposes to support the Mobility Fund using a portion of USF funding voluntarily relinquished by Verizon Wireless and Sprint. Those funds had been helping support service in areas that, at least in some cases, were being served by other mobile carriers.  Under the Mobility Fund, a portion of these funds will instead be distributed on a one-time basis using a market-based mechanism to target consumers in areas without advanced mobile services, ensuring that America gets the most bang for the USF buck.
The NPRM proposes:

·         To use $100 million to $300 million from the USF to create the Mobility Fund.

·         To identify the areas unserved by 3G mobile wireless services.

·         To use a reverse auction – in which the potential providers of services in identified areas without 3G service compete for support from the Mobility Fund by proposing the lowest amount of USF support they would require to serve areas that are currently unserved – to determine which providers get support, which specific geographic areas will receive support, and at what levels.

The NPRM also seeks comment on:

·         Whether to make support available to any unserved area in the nation or to target support by making it available in a limited set of unserved areas.

·         Minimum performance and coverage requirements that should be established for the service to be supported by the Mobility Fund.

Action by the Commission October 14, 2010, by Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FCC 10-182).   Chairman Genachowski, Commissioners Copps, McDowell, Clyburn, and Baker.  Separate statements issued by Chairman Genachowski, Commissioners Copps, McDowell, Clyburn, and Baker.

Docket No. 10-208.

For further information, contact Erik Salovaara (202-418-7582; Erik.Salovaara@fcc.gov).


Note: The NPRM includes the following regarding Mobility Fund support on Tribal lands:

Targeting Tribal Areas

We seek comment on whether we should reserve funds for developing a Mobility Fund support program targeted separately to Tribal lands that trail national 3G coverage rates.  Communities on Tribal lands have historically had less access to telecommunications services than any other segment of the population.  Available data illustrates that less than ten percent of residents on Tribal lands have access to broadband.  Also, Tribal lands are often in rural, high-cost areas, and present distinct connectivity challenges.  As a result, the National Broadband Plan noted that Tribes need substantially greater financial support than is presently available to them, and accelerating Tribal broadband will require increased funding.  W have recognized that Tribes are inherently sovereign governments that enjoy a unique relationship with the federal government.  In turn, we have reaffirmed our policy to promote a government-to-government relationship between the FCC and federally-recognized Indian tribes.   Because this relationship warrants a tailored approach that takes into consideration the unique characteristics of Tribal lands,  we believe addressing Mobility Fund support for Tribal lands on a separate track will be beneficial in providing adequate time to coordinate with American Indian Tribes and Alaska Native Village governments and seek their input.

Published by Traci L. Morris

Dr. Morris, the Director of the American Indian Policy Institute at Arizona State University is a member of the Chickasaw Nation of Oklahoma. Under her leadership, the AIPI has grown and diversified its service to Indian Country via an MOU formalizing a long-standing partnership with the Native American Finance Officers Association (NAFOA) and forming the Tribal Economic Leadership Program offering training in Tribal Economic Governance and Tribal Financial Management; access to Entrepreneurship training and tribal business support through Inno-Nations; and Economic Development Consulting; and, the formalization of the Institute via by-laws and an advisory board comprised of both internal ASU leadership and external tribal and non-tribal leadership. In her work at both ASU and prior, Morris has worked with Native American tribes; Tribal businesses; Native American non-profits; Native media makers, artists, and galleries; written a college-accredited curriculum in Native American new media; and has advocated for digital inclusion at the Federal Communications Commission and on Capitol Hill. Morris’s research and publications on Native American media and the digital divide is focused on Internet use, digital inclusion, network neutrality, digital and new media curriculums, digital inclusion and development of broadband networks in Indian Country. Her book, Native American Voices: A Reader, continues to be a primary teaching tool in colleges throughout the country. Dr. Morris is Affiliated Faculty at ASU's School for the Future of Innovation in Society, an Affiliate of ASU's Center for Gender Equity in Science and Technology, a Senior Sustainability Scholar at the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability, President of the Board of the Phoenix Indian Center, Board member of the Arizona American Indian Chamber of Commerce, and on the Advisory Council of the Association of Tribal Archives, Libraries and Museums. Formerly, Morris served member of the Advisory Board for the Department of Labor's Native American Employment and Training Council and served a two-year appointment (2014-2016 and 2010-2012) on the Federal Communications Commission's Consumer Advisory Committee. As an entrepreneur prior to her ASU appointment, Morris founded Homahota Consulting LLC, a national Native American woman-owned professional services firm working in policy analysis, telecommunications, education, and research assisting tribes in their nation-building efforts and working with Native Nations, tribal businesses and those businesses working with tribes. Morris has an M. A. and Ph.D. from the University of Arizona’s American Indian Studies, in addition to a B.A. in Liberal Arts from Colorado State University.

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