JACKSON, Miss., March 12, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- AT&T* today announced 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.
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 Yet, the policy became outdated in a competitive world where consumers have so many choices that they disconnect the very voice lines universal service worked so hard to deliver.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."
"Expanding broadband access to more people in our state will help create jobs and grow our economy," said Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant. "This is an important step in showing the world that Mississippi is open for business."
"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."
Today, one-third of Mississippi adults live in households that are totally wireless according to the National Center for Health Statistics, and that percentage continues to climb as customers continue to move to wireless and other technologies for their communications. Since 2000, almost one-half of AT&T landlines have been disconnected in Mississippi – from 1,350,000 to fewer than 700,000 today. Last year, an average of 6,700 lines were disconnected every month. This dramatic shift to new technologies and services has greatly altered the technology landscape in Mississippi.
*AT&T products and services are provided or offered by subsidiaries and affiliates of AT&T Inc. under the AT&T brand and not by AT&T Inc.
AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T) is a premier communications holding company and one of the most honored companies in the world. Its subsidiaries and affiliates – AT&T operating companies – are the providers of AT&T services in the United States and around the world. With a powerful array of network resources that includes the nation's fastest mobile broadband network, AT&T is a leading provider of wireless, Wi-Fi, high speed Internet, voice and cloud-based services. A leader in mobile broadband and emerging 4G capabilities, AT&T also offers the best wireless coverage worldwide of any U.S. carrier, offering the most wireless phones that work in the most countries. It also offers advanced TV services under the AT&T U-verse® and AT&T │DIRECTV brands. The company's suite of IP-based business communications services is one of the most advanced in the world. In domestic markets, AT&T Advertising Solutions and AT&T Interactive are known for their leadership in local search and advertising.
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