U.S. Cellular applies for $23.5M in broadband stimulus grants

U.S. Cellular applied for around $23.5 million in grants from the government's broadband stimulus package. The carrier wants to expand 3G mobile broadband to rural areas in California, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska.

The company said in each of its applications that it will provide broadband "largely over its existing wireless network." U.S. Cellular joins other smaller operators and telecom service providers, including Clearwire, Leap Wireless and Level 3 Communications, in applying for government funds.

Major players in the telecom industry--including AT&T, Comcast and Verizon--decided not to apply for the grants due to several factors, including the net neutrality rules attached to the distribution of the funds.

The government has allocated a total of $7.2 billion for broadband stimulus projects as part of the $787 billion economic stimulus package passed earlier this year. The first round of grants, totalling $4.7 billion, are supposed to be awarded this month, with the rest of the money scheduled to be allocated by September 2010. The Obama administration said the program will create 260,000 new jobs and stimulate the nation's sagging economy. 

For more:
- see this NTIA grant entry for U.S. Cellular
- see this release
- see this TeleGeography post

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