Feb. 9, 2012 at 1:34 PM ET
Never mind whether you can get super high-speed 4G wireless service for Internet access; what about the current 3G standard that most of us rely on? A new map released by the Federal Communications Commission shows the nation's data dead zones for wireless coverage, and there are lots of them, enough to trip many of us up when we're on a road trip across the country.
"These areas are U.S. Census blocks that lack 3G or better mobile coverage at the centroid of the block" as of October 2011, says the FCC. The map shows areas that have been "preliminarily identified as potentially eligible" for federal funding to beef up mobile broadband coverage.
The FCC says 18 million Americans "still have no high-speed Internet, and millions live, work and travel in areas without mobile broadband coverage."
The commission's Wireless and Wireline Bureaus will hold a "Mobility Fund" auction in September to see if there are providers that can come in and start eradicating some of those dead zones.
On Monday, the Wireline Bureau released a "Public Notice to move forward the process of allocating an additional $300 million this year for extending new fixed broadband service to rural homes and businesses," the FCC said on its blog.
"These are examples of how we are pinpointing areas that lack broadband to make smart use of subsidies — zeroing in on the rural communities that have been left behind, while ensuring continued availability of robust broadband in areas that already have it."
The effort is part of the "Connect America Fund," which will shift federal money spent annually to subsidize rural telephone service over to providing broadband in rural and what are considered costly-to-serve areas.
"We are taking a system designed for the Alexander Graham Bell era of rotary telephones and modernizing it for the era of Steve Jobs and the Internet future he imagined," FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said last fall.