It seems like almost every day that we receive a press release announcing Verizon or AT&T is planning to expand its LTE coverage to three, five, eleven new markets. But in some remote pockets of the country, you'd be lucky to latch onto even a solid 3G signal. In a bid to make sure those folks in the boonies get their due, the Federal Communications Commission is establishing a fund to encourage carriers to roll out 3G and 4G service in sparser areas. All told, the agency plans to award up to $300 million to mobile operators, with funds going to the providers offering the lowest rates. The winners will be decided in a sealed, single-round auction, which opens June 27th and is set to close July 11th. As a condition for receiving the funds, carriers must agree to cover at least 75 percent of the road miles within a given census tract. While it's unclear at this early stage which mobile players will take the bait, the FCC's already signaled which parts of the country will be first in line for upgraded service -- namely, Rocky Mountain states like Utah and Idaho, along with Maine, Appalachia and upstate New York.

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FCC to dole out up to $300 million to help carriers expand service in rural areas