AT&T estimated the number of total housing units without fixed broadband service at the Federal Communications Commission’s current 25/3 speed threshold (9.8 million) and at a 100/20 speed threshold (16.4 million) in both served and unserved census blocks. These are nationwide estimates without regard to any measure of “high-cost”
Billions of dollars have already been directed to broadband infrastructure and affordability in stimulus legislation, and we anticipate a significant commitment to broadband deployment in the upcoming Biden infrastructure bill. But all of this has raised two – and I think separate – fundamental questions.
California has enacted a “net neutrality” law banning “sponsored data” services that allowed companies to pay for, or “sponsor,” the data usage of their customers who are also AT&T wireless customers. Unfortunately, under the California law we are now prohibited from providing certain data features to consumers free of charge. Prior to California’s law, sponsored data customers were able to browse, stream and enjoy applications from sponsors without using their monthly data allowance.
March 12, we are filing our application to participate in the Federal Communications Commission’s Emergency Broadband Benefit program so we can offer low-income customers additional options for discounted broadband services. We appreciate the Commission’s efforts to move swiftly to implement this program and we look forward to its official launch date. While the EBB will help address the immediate broadband connectivity needs of many low-income Americans, we will continue to work with Congress and others to identify permanent and sustainable funding solutions.
As policymakers address the immediate needs of students and teachers, they should also use this as an opportunity to take a fresh look at the E-rate program, both from how it has been operationalized to date as well as its goals for the future. AT&T believes the following principles should guide any expansion of the program: