Broadband Products Supporting Low-Income Households

by Joan Marsh

Executive Vice President of Federal Regulatory Relations

There is a lot of momentum in Washington, D.C. and in state governments right now to improve the adoption of broadband by addressing the issue of affordability for low-income communities. But the challenge has also produced a lot of debate over the best way to move forward. To decide what policies will do the most…

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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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E-Rate 3.0 for a Remote Learning World

by Ed Gillespie

Senior Executive Vice President of External & Legislative Affairs

Our recent blogs have focused on modernizing the FCC’s Lifeline program and fixing the broken funding mechanism that supports the federal Universal Service Fund (USF).  The FCC’s E-rate program, however, deserves equal attention as students across the country require broadband connectivity to learn from home during the pandemic. The E-rate program was designed to help…

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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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Closing the Homework Gap and Bridging the Digital Divide

by Ed Gillespie

Senior Executive Vice President of External & Legislative Affairs

As a country, we have weathered an extraordinary year.  The pandemic laid bare fissures and inequities that we will be addressing for a long time to come.  One of the many lessons learned – if there was ever any doubt – is the critical need to stay digitally connected to our work, our schools and…

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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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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

Does Lifeline Need a Life Boat?

by Joan Marsh

Executive Vice President of Federal Regulatory Relations

Last week, the GAO issued a report on its investigation into the FCC’s Lifeline program, a program designed to deliver essential communications services to low income families but one that has grown at an alarming rate.  The report’s findings are both expected and surprising – expected in that the report highlights areas of weakness in…

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AT&T Statement on FCC’s Actions on Lifeline, Privacy

The following may be attributed to an AT&T spokesperson: “Notwithstanding the controversy that occurred over the Lifeline action at today’s meeting, positive steps were taken to move Lifeline into the 21st century by beginning the transition of the program from voice to broadband. The agency also started the process of removing carriers from determining whether…

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Lifeline is Headed in the Right Direction (We Hope)

The effort to modernize the troubled Lifeline program appears to be moving in the right direction.  AT&T has long supported the need to fix the program’s glaring administrative problems while allowing Lifeline eligible consumers to use their $9.25 discount on Internet access services. Last week, the FCC’s fact sheet outlined plans for a National Eligibility…

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