Silicon Valley – Recipient of Mobility Fund Phase 1 Support?

Santa Clara County and areas eligible for Mobile Connect Fund
Santa Clara County and areas eligible for Mobile Connect Fund

Silicon Valley, the hot bed of technology innovation that helps drive broadband and mobile innovation, is under-served,when it comes to having high-speed wireless access to every one of its nook and crannies, according to the FCC.  The FCC’s newly released interactive map shows several areas in the eastern half of Santa Clara County (home to Silicon Valley) that may be eligible to be part of the FCC’s Mobility Fund Phase 1 support.

The FCC writes that, “Auction 901 will award one-time support to carriers that commit to provide 3G or better mobile voice and broadband services in areas where such services are unavailable.”  The intent of the interactive map is to show those areas that are potentially eligible to receive a portion of the $300M fund and make it easier for people to intelligently comment as to whether these areas should be eligible for such funding. What makes this FCC action, scheduled for September 27th, unique is that it will use reverse competitive bidding to determine what entities will service the under-served areas.

For those who are unfamiliar with this part of Santa Clara County/Silicon Valley, it is a world removed from the hustle and bustle of the nation’s 10th largest city (think volunteer fire departments and one-room schools).  With the 4,000+ foot Mount Hamilton as a barrier, it takes approximately an hour and a half to travel the less than 20 miles distance that separates the almost 2 million people of Silicon Valley from the 162 miles of rural roads that serve the 142 people referenced in the FCC’s interactive map.

Looking Towards Mount Hamilton from Silicon Valley
Looking Towards Mount Hamilton from Silicon Valley

It is a mountainous region and wireless will be a challenge.  Perhaps this is an opportunity for white spaces technology using broadcast frequencies.  The Diablo Range blocks the local broadcast signals, so it would be hard to imagine issues of interference between white spaces devices and broadcasters.  The frequencies associated with broadcast television might help with propagation, but still might not be enough.  Backhaul would be a challenge as well.  This could be an interesting opportunity for Silicon Valley companies that offer wireless solutions, as it would give a  nearby test bed with real customers, while the funding could come largely from the Connect America Fund.

Looking out from the east side of Mount Hamilton
Looking out from the east side of Mount Hamilton, circa 1989 = it really hasn’t changed since then
A rural road east of Mount Hamilton (Santa Clara County)
A rural road east of Mount Hamilton, circa 1989 (Santa Clara County)

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