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Monday, July 15, 2024

AT&T advocates Big Tech contributions to telecom subsidy fund

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In Short:

AT&T CEO John Stankey believes that Big Tech firms should contribute to a government fund that supports telecom and broadband services. The Universal Service Fund, which currently relies on fees from cell phone and landline subscribers, is facing financial strain. Stankey argues that tech companies should help ensure affordable access to essential services. Congress is considering proposals to require contributions from tech companies and broadband providers.

AT&T CEO John Stankey called on Congress to give the Federal Communications Commission the authority to mandate contributions from Big Tech companies to support a government fund that subsidizes access to telecom and broadband services. This move aims to address the current funding gap in the Universal Service Fund.

AT&T CEO’s Perspective

During a telecom industry forum in Utah, Stankey emphasized that major tech companies should contribute to ensuring affordable and equitable access to essential services, similar to how phone service subscribers currently support the fund through fees.

Funding Gap Concern

The recent depletion of funds in a broadband internet subsidy program has highlighted the pressing need for additional resources. Despite previous allocations, the fund ran out of money in May, prompting calls for further financial support.

Universal Service Fund Functionality

Established to assist low-income individuals, schools, libraries, and rural healthcare providers, the Universal Service Fund plays a crucial role in facilitating access to telephone and broadband services. Various proposals in Congress are under consideration to require contributions from tech and broadband companies to bolster the fund.

Industry Reaction

While AT&T’s stance has been clear, Meta (Facebook’s parent company) and Google have not issued immediate comments on the matter.

The ongoing discussions in Congress reflect the growing importance of addressing funding challenges in supporting universal access to telecom and broadband services.

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