U.S. Cellular has applied for federal stimulus funding to provide 3G mobile broadband in parts of northern California, Nebraska, Missouri and Kansas.
The funds would be used to close the digital divide in rural and underserved communities using the carrier’s 3G network. Specifically, the company is requesting $2.95 million for California, $5.58 million for Nebraska, $11.2 million for Missouri and $3.7 million for Kansas.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) has set aside $7.2 billion to promote access to broadband Internet services in rural and underserved communities, areas where U.S. Cellular has historically focused its development of wireless networks.
“If provided with funding, we stand ready with shovels in-hand and are prepared to complete these mobile broadband projects within one year,” said John Rooney, president and CEO of U.S. Cellular, in a press release. “It is an aggressive plan that will provide jobs, spur economic growth and enhance public safety for rural, underserved and vulnerable Americans.”
U.S. Cellular, a vocal opponent of exclusive handset deals on the part of larger carriers, has been struggling of late to compete amid a weak economy and increased competition from the likes of low-priced prepaid providers. In the second quarter, U.S. Cellular reported a 31 percent increase in data revenues, but its service revenues declined 1 percent from the year prior due to a reduction in inbound roaming revenues related mostly to the acquisition of Alltel by Verizon Wireless.