AT&T Broadband Policy Goals Include Modernizing USF, More Accurate Maps, and More

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Jeff McElfresh, CEO of AT&T Communications, described AT&T's broadband policy goals. He said Congress should act to directly fund the Universal Service Fund, changing the funding mechanism since the contribution factor — the percentage of voice revenues that goes toward USF — is on track to exceed 30% for the first time. Other AT&T broadband policy recommendations outlined:

  • Retain a light touch regulatory approach. Although McElfresh didn’t provide details here, this would appear to be a reference to Net Neutrality and Open Internet issues, including whether broadband should be classified as a Title II telecommunications service, which would leave the service open to heavier regulation. He noted that AT&T expects to double the number of fiber locations that it serves within the next five years.
  • Be technology-neutral. As the government awards “up to $80 billion” for broadband, it should “let engineers decide how to expand broadband into rural America” and should not “get prescriptive about technology.” He argued, for example, that fixed wireless broadband offers a means of using tax dollars wisely for rural broadband.
  • Obtain accurate broadband availability data. “We need precise maps...down to individual buildings,” McElfresh said.

AT&T Broadband Policy Goals Include Modernizing USF, Three More