A Bold Plan for a Connected America

by Joan Marsh

Executive Vice President of Federal Regulatory Relations

Last week, the National Urban League released a report on “Connecting and Uplifting America.” The report focuses on a singular and essential question: “How can the tools of the information economy be employed to create a more equitable and inclusive society.” I am reminded of poet Amanda Gorman’s verse on Inauguration Day, where she observed that…

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New Year, New Solutions: Reforming Universal Service Contributions

by Joan Marsh

Executive Vice President of Federal Regulatory Relations

On January 1, 2021, the Universal Service Fund contribution factor officially hit 31.8% — a new and alarming all-time high.  Policymakers have wrestled with concerns over the rising factor for years but crossing the 30% threshold is a serious wake-up call.  A USF contribution factor of around 5% was the norm until 2005 when it…

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2021 – Closing the Homework Gap Together

by Joan Marsh

Executive Vice President of Federal Regulatory Relations

One thing we all learned last year was the power of connection – the critical need to stay digitally connected to our work, school, family and friends. It was a year that accelerated the move to digital, changing permanently how we communicate, learn and work. Sadly, nearly 17 million children across America are disconnected from…

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The RDOF Auction Results and Implications for U.S. Broadband Policy

by Joan Marsh

Executive Vice President of Federal Regulatory Relations

The preliminary results of the FCC’s Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) auction are now public and while it is a long road from auction results to authorization of funding to actual deployment, the results have significant implications for U.S. broadband policy.  The locations covered in the Phase I auction represent the rural locations that are…

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Gambling with our 5G Future

by Joan Marsh

Executive Vice President of Federal Regulatory Relations

Today, AT&T is responding to a Request for Information from the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) that seeks comment on spectrum sharing technologies and leasing arrangements; asks whether the DoD should own and operate its own 5G network; and addresses myriad technical, statutory, legal, regulatory and policy issues associated with new approaches to spectrum sharing.  What’s really…

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A New Era of Spectrum Aggregation

by Joan Marsh

Executive Vice President of Federal Regulatory Relations

The FCC has long relied on a spectrum aggregation tool to assess any transaction where an applicant is acquiring or gaining leased rights for spectrum.  The tool, triggered when an entity’s spectrum holdings would exceed a specified level, is designed to evaluate whether any one entity’s wireless license holdings would cause competitive harm. If the…

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Understanding the Potential Cost of an Expanded Lifeline Program

by Joan Marsh

Executive Vice President of Federal Regulatory Relations

Before the pandemic, we worried about the “the homework gap” – the learning that was missed because a growing number of teachers assigned homework that required internet access that was absent from many homes. Now, as the pandemic continues to force schools to rely heavily on remote learning, disconnected students are not just missing homework…

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The Neutrality Debate
We Need to Have

by Joan Marsh

Executive Vice President of Federal Regulatory Relations

This Wednesday, the FCC will take comments on NTIA’s petition on reforming Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, a provision enacted in 1996 to address a narrow set of concerns involving nascent internet platforms that then played only a marginal role in American life.  The purpose of the provision made sense at that moment…

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We Need to Have

Making Lifeline a Snap
For Eligible Households

by Joan Marsh

Executive Vice President of Federal Regulatory Relations

Benefit programs designed to help vulnerable populations have been improving their processes for many years through technology.  The USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) program replaced “food stamps” with Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards in the late 1990s, providing beneficiaries broad choices in shopping and enabling them to pay with “plastic.” To add further convenience,…

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For Eligible Households

We Need to Fundamentally Rethink How USF Programs are Funded

by Joan Marsh

Executive Vice President of Federal Regulatory Relations

As of July 1, the Universal Service Fund (USF) contribution factor exceeded 26%.  In other words, for every dollar consumers and businesses spend on voice and data transport services, service providers must pay more than a quarter towards supporting USF programs, a heavy tax by any measure. The USF contribution factor has been creeping up…

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