AT&T Chief Executive Officer John Stankey Discusses How to Close the Digital Divide

John Stankey, chief executive officer of AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T), spoke Tuesday, Feb. 23 at the AT&T Policy Forum on the steps needed to make high-speed internet connections accessible, affordable and sustainable to more rural and low-income families.

In a discussion with Steve Clemons, Editor at Large of The Hill, Stankey said industry and government can work together to financially incentivize investments and modernize subsidy programs to ensure that all children can learn and workers can do their jobs remotely.

Failure to act will only further disenfranchise young Americans who already face challenging social and economic situations. Supporting students and workers through this current public health crisis, and beyond, is a social, business and economic imperative.

He identified 3 key elements that will help close the digital divide:

Identify where broadband is and isn’t available. In December, Congress allocated $65 million for precise broadband mapping. Acting FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel announced last week the formation of a task force to improve broadband maps. Stankey applauded the new FCC.

Modernize FCC’s Lifeline and E-Rate programs. Goal is to be more consumer-friendly, increase monthly financial support for broadband service and move to a more sustainable funding source.

Continued encouragement of private investment. Broadband providers have invested nearly $2 trillion since 1996 on communications network infrastructure. Congress and the FCC should maintain policies that incentivize providers to continue investing in broadband connectivity.

The public and private sector have key roles to play in bringing broadband to all Americans in ways that are accessible, affordable and sustainable. The time to act is now.