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Telecom Stock Roundup: AT&T Offers Business Update, Juniper Boosts Portfolio & More

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U.S. telecom stocks mirrored the broader benchmark equity indices over the past week and witnessed a gradual downtrend due to an apparent policy paralysis, despite the best intentions of the government to spur a healthy growth momentum. The final passage of the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill by the House appears to have hit a roadblock, as several progressive Democrats want the bill to be tied to the larger $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation bill that is facing massive backlash from both Republicans and Democrats. The infusion of federal funds to improve broadband infrastructure for greater access and deeper penetration in the underserved domestic markets is the need of the hour to bridge the digital divide. However, the uncertainty over the much sought-after infrastructure bill that focuses on affordability and low-cost service option has hard hit the industry. Moreover, with the five-member FCC deadlocked with two Republican and two Democratic member representations, its implementation is likely to be delayed until the fifth member is nominated and confirmed. To add to the woes, an interim rule published by the U.S. Treasury Department has narrowed the broadband eligibility and jeopardized the President’s goal of delivering fast, affordable Internet to every American household. The rule prioritizes broadband in areas that have either slow or no connectivity and largely favors rural remote locations. However, several cities with broadband connectivity are also found to be lacking in faster Internet speed due to exponential growth in data demand and increasing work-from-home trend. This, in turn, could create a broad anomaly as sparsely populated areas currently lacking broadband could leapfrog certain urban areas in their Internet speeds if the Treasury goes forward with the purported rule. Meanwhile, Democrat congressmen have introduced the “Device Access for Every American Act” to improve accessibility among low-income broadband consumers. The legislation pledges to offer a $400 voucher to low-income consumers to purchase an Internet access device by allotting $1 billion every year for five years to the project. Separately, in a concerted effort to improve data security and privacy, and prevent identity theft, the U.S. House Energy and........

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