Mapping Dead Zones: FCC Charts Areas Lacking Cell Service
by Leslie Meredith, TechNewsDaily Senior Writer
February 14 2012 05:37 PM ET
The dark areas indicate areas eligible for FCC funding.
Rural America has its rewards -- you might hear cows rather than cars -- but try to get a decent cellphone signal and you're often out of luck. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has a map for that, to identify areas where wireless service is insufficient.
"As our new map demonstrates, millions of Americans still live, work and travel in areas where advanced mobile networks have not been built out," FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said in a statement.
The FCC coverage guide shows areas of the nation that are not served by so-called 3G or 4G high-speed service. These areas make do with older tech called 2G that, in addition to being slower, is often too weak to reach the nearest cell tower. An estimated 18 million Americans have no high-speed Internet service or mobile broadband coverage, according to the agency. On the map, gray indicates areas that are eligible for subsidies from the $300 million fund earmarked by the government under its Connect America program.
Sparsely populated areas of the United States are expensive to cover. The FCC fund will provide subsidies to wireless carriers to help offset the cost of building infrastructure.
Even with subsidies, rural service may prove unprofitable. Along with money for construction, carriers are also eligible for subsidies from a $500 million-per-year pool under a program called the Universal Service Fund. But rural carriers say it's simply not enough.
Eric Graham, vice president of government relations for C Spire Wireless in Mississippi, said, "the result of this order will be that we have to turn off towers."