ACROSS MISSISSIPPI — AT&T is making a $53 million investment throughout Mississippi as a result of reforms made to the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Universal Service Fund, a vast majority of which will be used to enable broadband expansion. This investment in Mississippi will mean more than 170 new sites in more than 60 wire centers, which will increase access to more than 30,000 living units in the state that do not have access to broadband today, according to AT&T.
After many years of study and debate, the FCC recently revised its rules to allow companies receiving universal service fund dollars to be able to spend those funds on broadband equipment. Previously, the objective of the fund was to deliver affordable voice telephone service to as many Americans as possible. Yet, the policy became outdated in a competitive world where consumers have so many choices that they disconnect the very voice lines universal service worked so hard to deliver.
“In the 21st century, the goal is to deliver broadband and mobility to all parts of the country,” said Mayo Flynt, AT&T Mississippi president. “And the challenge is to use efficient market-based incentives and policy reforms, not the same old investment-sapping mandates that no longer fit. The updated federal policy recently adopted by the FCC is more suited to today’s highly-competitive market and will allow AT&T to bring broadband to areas previously unserved and allow us to provide customers in rural Mississippi what they really want.”
“Access to broadband across the state will lead both to economic opportunity and enhanced quality of life for all Mississippians,” said Jim Barksdale, Mississippi Broadband Connect Coalition chairman and executive director of the Mississippi Development Authority. “Expanding access to broadband will help our state’s economy grow, create jobs and ensure economic benefits throughout Mississippi. Expanding broadband to all Mississippi residents is not an inexpensive endeavor and this investment is a great step in the right direction to move Mississippi forward.”