Carol Mattey

USForward: FCC Must Reform USF Contributions Now - An Analysis of the Options

The Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Universal Service Fund (USF or Fund) has been one of the nation’s most important tools for connecting our nation, including rural communities, low-income families, schools, libraries, and rural health care facilities. However, the funding mechanism that supports the Fund is under significant duress. The “contribution base” – the revenues used to calculate USF contributions – has declined 63% in the last two decades, from $79.9 billion in 2001 to $29.6 billion in 2021.

Five Steps to Advance Rural Broadband

On March 12, 2019, I was honored to appear before the Senate Communications Subcommittee to testify on “The Impact of Broadband Investments in Rural America.” I provided my personal views, bringing the perspective of a former government official with 22 years of experience at the Federal Communications Commission and National Telecommunications and Information Administration, with the last decade focused on the FCC’s Connect America Fund. My five-minute opening statement follows:

Setting the Bar for Public Funding: Aiming Higher with the Connect America Fund

[Commentary] How can we improve the biggest tool to closing the digital divide in the Federal Communications Commission’s toolbox: the Connect America Fund. Back in 2011, the FCC adopted a performance goal for the Connect America Fund of ensuring universal access to fixed broadband and concluded it would measure progress towards this outcome based on the number of newly served locations — but it did not articulate any concrete vision for when this universal service goal might be achieved.

Setting the Extremely High Cost Per Location Threshold for BEAD

Over the last 18 months, there’s been a lot of discussion about whether National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) struck the right balance in urging states to extend fiber as far as possible when implementing the $40+ billion Broadband Equity Access and Deployment (BEAD) Program. With all due respect to those who are passionate about their respective point of view—it’s time to step back and take a deep breath.

Ensuring Bids for ALL Eligible Locations in BEAD: The Challenge Ahead

States are racing to finish their Initial Proposals for the National Telecommunications and Information Administration's $40+ billion Broadband Equity Access and Deployment (BEAD) program. One of the things they need to be thinking about is how to design their programs so that they have viable applicants for all their eligible locations, not just most of them. This requires a radical shift in mindset from past grantmaking activities, when the state’s task was to award grants to improve service in discrete areas.

Takeaways from the FCC’s LTD Decisions

In a one-two punch, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rejected LTD’s appeal of the earlier decision declaring it to be in default for its Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) winning bids and proposed to fine LTD over $21 million for its defaults.

The ACP High-Cost Benefit Isn’t Going to Break the ACP Bank

In the bi-partisan 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, Congress decided to provide a larger Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) benefit in high-cost areas—up to $75/month, compared to the standard $30/month benefit. Last week, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) quietly announced that service providers could start filing applications on January 17, 2024, to become eligible to receive this larger benefit.

It’s Time to Kick the Tires on Those Enforceable Broadband Deployment Commitments

The goal of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration's (NTIA) $40+ billion Broadband Equity Access and Deployment (BEAD) Program is to ensure that everyone in the United States has access to reliable, high-speed, and affordable broadband. Part of the challenge is how to treat areas where funding already has been awarded for broadband deployment. Will all awardees perform as expected?

Lessons Learned from RDOF: Some Advice for the States as They Embark on BEAD

Today, many months after passage of the landmark Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the states are finally on the cusp of implementing National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s $40+ billion Broadband Equity Access and Deployment program. Some states are confidently moving ahead quickly, while others are in the early days of developing concrete plans for how they will manage this historic federal investment.

USForward Responds to AT&T's Comments Regarding Universal Service Fund

The USForward group, consisting of Mattey Consulting—the Ad Hoc Telecom Users Committee, INCOMPAS, NTCA, Public Knowledge, the Schools, Health & Libraries Broadband Coalition, and the Voice on the Net Coalition—filed a letter on July 8, 2022, in response to AT&T’s letter claiming the USForward Report and i