A letter addressed to
the NTIA and Department of Commerce

Re: BEAD — Alternatives to the Irrevocable Standby Letter of Credit Requirement

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September 6, 2023

The Honorable Gina M. Raimondo
Secretary of Commerce

The Honorable Alan Davidson
Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications

U.S. Department of Commerce
1401 Constitution Avenue NW Washington, DC 20230

Dear Secretary Raimondo and Assistant Secretary Davidson,

We, the undersigned, are deeply committed to the success of the NTIA’s Broadband Equity Access and Deployment (“BEAD”) program. We are, however, equally concerned that the program will not achieve its objective of delivering internet for all because, as currently written, the rules risk excluding thousands of providers whose participation is vital to closing America’s digital divide.

To ensure BEAD lives up to its promise to deliver a more equitable digital future, we respectfully ask you to urgently consider alternatives to the program’s irrevocable standby Letter of Credit (“LOC”) requirement. 

Under the current requirements, participants must obtain a LOC issued by an FDIC bank with Weiss rating of B- or better for 25% of the award amount. Banks providing LOCs require that they be collateralized by cash or cash-equivalent. As a result, awardees will have to lock away vast sums of capital for the full duration of the build, likely several years. With the additional 25% match requirement, recipients will have a capital hurdle of more than 60% of their grant. We estimate a provider seeking a $7.5 million grant for a $10 million project will need at least $4.6 million of their own capital up-front.

While we support the NTIA’s intention of ensuring providers are accountable for delivering on grants, far from safeguarding taxpayer dollars, the LOC requirement will prevent the internet service providers (“ISPs”) best positioned to connect unserved and underserved Americans from participating. For the reasons below, alternatives to the LOC should be allowed.

First, by establishing capital barriers too steep for all but the best-funded ISPs, the LOC shuts out the vast majority of entities the program claims to prioritize: small and community-centered ISPs, minority and women-owned ISPs, nonprofits, and municipalities. Rather than demonstrating a provider’s ability to construct a broadband network and provide high-speed broadband services to unserved and underserved Americans, the LOC is a measure of whether they can lock up valuable working capital over multiple years. While large incumbents may be able to bear this financial burden, most others can not. And, due to various state and local rules, municipalities are often not allowed to obtain LOCs. Therefore, alternatives to the LOC are critical to ensure these providers can participate in the BEAD program.

Second, the banking sector has made clear that it does not have the appetite to issue LOCs at the scale required to satisfy this $42.5B program. BEAD rules say LOCs can only be issued by banks with Weiss ratings of B- or better, with lower-rated banks, investors, Community Development Finance Institutions (CDFIs), and philanthropy not eligible to fill the gap. Even if these banks can be persuaded to issue $10.6B in LOCs, the capital needed to collateralize them means billions of dollars are sitting idle and not being used to buy equipment, lay fiber, and train the next generation of broadband engineers. We do not believe this is what the NTIA had in mind when it adopted the LOC requirement.

While the LOC is meant to safeguard funds in the event of default, it fails to find the balance that does this while honoring BEAD’s aim to ensure every American can access high-speed broadband services through a broad sector of ISPs.

Notably, past federal broadband investments had either a match requirement OR a letter of credit — not both. The USDA Rural Utilities Service ReConnect program, for example, requires a 25% match but not a LOC and releases grant funds on reimbursement. The Treasury Department’s Capital Projects Fund has no requirement either for a match or an LOC. On this basis, we recommend waiving the LOC requirement entirely. However, if the NTIA is determined to take a belt-and-suspenders approach, the following should be made available to applicants as additional alternatives to the LOC:

Performance bonds, commonly used in construction projects, are a suitable alternative to a LOC, providing a financial guarantee for the delivery of the project without requiring providers to front such a large amount of capital to secure BEAD funding. Performance bonds have the additional benefit that the bond issuer performs significant due diligence on the applicant, providing an additional layer of qualification. And, as bond issuers are incentivized to ensure performance, this mechanism adds further assurance of project completion.

Delayed reimbursement, allowing providers and State Broadband Offices to agree on a set of milestones that must be achieved to release grant tranches. This formalizes the current reimbursement plan in which grants will be issued to providers incrementally over the course of the build. This commonly used approach will empower Broadband Offices to work effectively with the applicants they deem best positioned to connect unserved and underserved communities in their state.

These alternatives do not supersede the due diligence that State Broadband Offices must perform on applicants to ensure proposals are viable and that applicants have the capacity to perform. But providing alternatives to LOCs ensures such objectives are achieved without unnecessarily excluding ISPs otherwise ready and able to connect communities across the US.

BEAD has the potential to be one of the most transformative investments in our history. Like the Rural Electrification Act of the 1930s, it can unleash the power of marginalized communities nationwide, but only if we create a level playing field where all providers have an equal opportunity to participate. A course-correction is therefore needed. 

We were encouraged when your advisor Kevin Gallagher said, “If you take the equity out of BEAD, it’s just BAD.” So we ask you to act now to keep equity in BEAD and ensure the program lives up to its promise.


Jochai Ben-Avie, CEO, Connect Humanity

Gigi Sohn, Executive Director, American Association for Public Broadband

Sharayah Lane, Senior Advisor for Indigenous Community Connectivity, Internet Society

Jade Piros de Carvalho, Director of Broadband Development, Kansas Department of Commerce

Mark Vasconi, Director, Washington State Broadband Office

Christine D Hallquist, Executive Director, Vermont Community Broadband Board

Shane Larson, Senior Director for Government Affairs and Policy, Communications Workers of America

John Windhausen, Executive Director, Schools, Health & Libraries Broadband (SHLB) Coalition

Adrianne Furniss, Executive Director, Benton Institute for Broadband & Society

Quinn Jordan, Executive Director, Mississippi Broadband Association

Megan Janicki, Deputy Director, American Library Association

Cedric Watkins, Policy Advocate, Public Knowledge

Matthew Chase, Executive Director, National Association of Counties

Jonathan Schwantes, Senior Policy Counsel, Consumer Reports

Blair Levin, Former Executive Director 2010 National Broadband Plan

Pierce Verchick, Head of Broadband Lending, Live Oak Bank

Kelty Garbee, Executive Director, Texas Rural Funders

Robert P Vietzke, Director, Vermont Communications Union Districts Association

Amina Fazlullah, Senior Director Equity Policy, Common Sense Media

Christopher Mitchell, Program Director, Institute for Local Self-Reliance

L. Elizabeth Bowles, CEO, Aristotle Unified Communications L.L.C.

Donna Gambrell, President and CEO, Appalachian Community Capital

Joseph Valandra, Chairman & CEO, Tribal Ready, PBC

Matt Wood, VP of Policy, Free Press

Doug Dawson, President, CCG Consulting

Sascha Meinrath, Director, X-Lab

Mark Buell & Phil Mozejko, Indigenous Connectivity Institute

Cindy S. Church, Continuing Education Consultant, Library of Virginia

Amy Sample Ward, CEO, NTEN

Francella Ochillo, Executive Director, Next Century Cities

Scott D. Woods, President, Public-Private Partnerships, Ready.net, Inc.

Dawn Euer, Senator, Rhode Island Senate

Megan Mauro, SVP of Policy and Advocacy, Texas Association of Business

Christine Yanas, Vice President of Policy & Advocacy, Methodist Healthcare Ministries of South Texas, Inc.

Kenley Joseph, Tech and Telecom Policy Counsel, Multicultural Media, Telecom, and Internet Council

Jamie Rasberry, Director of Policy and Strategic Partnerships, Mississippi Alliance for Nonprofits and Philanthropy

Dr. Jeanine Abrams McLean, President, Fair Count

Jordana Barton-Garcia, Co-Chair, Texas Rio Grande Valley Broadband Coalition

Dianne Connery, Director, Pottsboro Area Public Library

Rebecca Masisak, CEO, TechSoup

F. X. Flinn, Chair, Governing Board, East Central VT Telecommunications District (dba ECFiber)

Brian Snider, CEO, Lit Communities

Katherine Townsend, Director, Measurement Lab

Thomas W. Ferree, Chairman & CEO, Connected Nation

Colby Hall, Executive Director, Shaping Our Appalachian Region

Norma Fernandez, Chief Executive Officer, EveryoneOn

Jennifer Imo, Executive Director, National Association of Towns and Townships

Steven Schwerbel, State Advocacy Manager, WISPA - Broadband Without Boundaries

Garren Shannon, Director of Information Technology Services, Pullman Public Schools 

Tracy S. Doaks, President & CEO, MCNC

Charles E. Thomas, President, TrailRunner Communications

Jim Baller, President, Coalition for Local Internet Choice

Linda Ujifusa, Senator (Dist. 11), Rhode Island State Senator

Tiffany Patterson, President & CEO, United Ways of Texas

Ann Janda, CCCUD Clerk, Chittenden County Communications Union District (CCCUD)

Frank Marley, Exec VP Government Affairs & Business Development, Indigenous Broadband Solutions, LLC

Jennille Smith, Executive Director, CVFiber

Myles Smith, Executive Director, Maine Broadband Coalition

La Plata County Board of County Commissioners: Marsha Porter-Norton, Chair; Matt Salka, Vice Chair: Clyde Church, Commissioner, La Plata County Government

Michael Stephen Donovan Jr., Owner, Belzoni Cable, LLC

Andrea F Bennett, Executive Director, California IT in Education (CITE)

Nathanael Wills, Organizer, Delta Interfaith 

Andre DeMattia, Co-CEO, Talkie Communications, Inc.

Eric Hatch, Board Chair, Southern Vermont Communications Union District

Jonathan Cooper, Community & Economic Development Program Manager, Bennington County Regional Commission

Ellie de Villiers, Executive Director, Addison County Communications Union District (dba Maple Broadband)

Michelle Salas, Owner, UpNet Wisconsin, LLC

Mike Buschman, Library Development Manager, Washington State Library

Christa Shute, Executive Director, NEK Broadband

Emily C. Schuh, Administrative Services Director, ACCESS Anacortes Fiber Internet (City of Anacortes)

Matt Miller, Mayor, City of Anacortes

Marsha Porter-Norton, Chairwoman, Board of Commissioners, La Plata County 

Butch Brock, Executive Vice President, ITC Holding Company

Alan Fitzpatrick, CEO, Open Broadband, LLC

Mike Bordogna, County Manager, San Miguel County 

Andy Kerr, Chair, Board of County Commissioners, Jefferson County (CO) Government

Sean R. Kio,  NWCUD Executive Director, Northwest Vermont Communications Union District

Beverly LaShawn Williamson, CEO, Wave7 Communications, LLC

Gayle Nelson, Vice President, Education Sales, ENA by Zayo

Laurence Brett ("Brett") Glass, Owner and Founder, LARIAT (The World's first WISP)

Steven Corbató, Executive Director, Link Oregon

Dianne Connery, Director, Pottsboro Area Public Library

Eric Pearson, President & CEO, El Paso Community Foundation

Ellen Ray, CEO, Still Water Foundation

Paul Fixx, Governing Board Chair, NEK Broadband Communications Union District

JJ McGrath, Owner/Operator, Texoma Communications, LLC dba TekWav

Richard D Soutar, President, Triple Crown Internet, Inc

Larry Didway, Superintendent, Clackamas Education Service District

Joe Turnham, Director, Macon County Economic Development Authority

Gene Logan, Jr., Co-Founder & CEO, Final Span, LLC

Brian Smith, CEO, Uplink LLC

Rod Wagner, Director, Nebraska Library Commission

Arielle Jones, Digital Navigator, Goodwill Industries of the Inland Northwest 

Lee Davenport, Director, US Ignite

Roy Hoover, President & CEO, Hoover Technology Consulting, LLC

Ronnie Maez, Chairman of the Board of County Commissioners, Archuleta County

William A. Tookey, County Administrator, San Juan County, Colorado

Dee Davis, President, Center for Rural Strategies

Roy Davis, Assistant Librarian, Fannie Brown Booth Memorial Library

Dwayne McFall, County Commissioner, Fremont County, Colorado

Lisa Nolen Birmingham, Interim Executive Director, Lamoille FiberNet Communications Union District

Mitchell Block, President, Net Ops Communications

Matt Larsen, CEO, Vistabeam

Marybeth Allen, Co-Chair, Orland (Maine) Broadband Committee

Christopher Christian, LAN Communications Corp

Martha Huizenga, COO and Co-Owner, DC Access LLC

Jane Brown, President and CEO, Robert W. Deutsch Foundation

Lawrence Guyot, President, Empowerment through Technology & Education, Inc.

Angela Bennink, General Manager, Public Utility District #1 of Kitsap County

Tamara Davis Brown, CEO, Last Mile Broadband of Maryland, LLC

James Kyle, CEO, Millennium Infrastructure Fund

Arthur S. Gaylord, co-founder and Chair Emeritus, OpenCape, Inc

Reg Weiser, CEO, Positron Access Solutions Corp

Vikram Venkatasubramanian, CEO, Nandi Security, Inc

Mark Ouellette, CEO, Axiom Technologies, LLC

Ryan Delack, CFO, Surf Internet 

Charles W. Sherwood, Jr., Community Media Visioning

Tony Beyer, Broadband Advocate, ROANEnet

Joseph Ceasar, Executive Director, Legacy Institute for Financial Education dba LIFE Tech

Wynn Rosser, Ph.D., President & CEO, T.L.L. Temple Foundation

Gabrielle Ciuffreda, Executive Director, DVFiber

Sajit Bhaskaran, CEO, Aspen Networks Inc

Cesar Villa, Director of Operations, Eagle Pass Public Library

Jeffrey R. West, Executive Director, Education to Employment Partners

Joey Anderson, CEO, Nortex Communications

Armando Cantu, Executive Director, CARDBoard Project

Peggy O'Brien, Chair, Upper Rio Grande Regional Working Group

Eddie Hopkins, Executive Director, Jasper Economic Development Corporation

Kristen Moudy, Executive Director, Wheeler Economic Development and Chamber of Commerce

Kate Laughlin, Executive Director, Association for Rural & Small Libraries

Becky Calahan, Director, Philanthropy Advocates

Dr. Ron Suarez, Executive Director, Broadband Institute Foundation (ISPcoop)

Mary Ellen Wiederwohl, President & CEO, Accelerator for America

Lonnie Hunt, Executive Director, Deep East Texas Council of Governments

Ben Mackey, Executive Director, Texas Impact Network

Chad Sims, County Judge, Harrison County, Texas

Ines Polonius, Chief Executive Officer, Communities Unlimited, Inc.

Debbie Bresette, Executive Director, Bastrop County Cares 

Robert Scott, Texas Rural Broadband Coalition

Carrie Warren-Gully, Chair, Board of County Commissioners, Arapahoe County (CO) Government

Sam Patterson, Board Chair, Falmouth Broadband MLP

Larry Gatlin, IT Administrator, Wheeler County

Laura Black, Governing Board Chair, Otter Creek Communications Union District

Katie Alford, President & CEO, Community Foundation of Abilene

Jeff Branick, Texas County Judge, Jefferson County, Texas

Michelle D. Monse, President, Carl B. & Florence E. King Foundation

Peter R. Jones, Llano County Commissioner, Llano County

Keralee Clay, Sr. Vice President, Amarillo Area Foundation

Tricia Jagneaux, CEO, Evergreen Technology Solutions, LLC

Justin Yancy, President , Texas Business Leadership Council 

Theodore Pietz, Principal, Aquidneck Light

Brett Schuppner, General Manager, Reedsburg Utility Commission

Abe Laydon, Commissioner, Douglas County

Sally Braun, Director, First Mile Connectivity Consortium

Marcie Trevino Ripper, Policy Consultant, SA Digital Connects

Lori E Dodd, Executive Director, Texas Midwest Community Network

Leonard Winchester, President, Smoky Mountain Techworks Incl

Rob Barlow CEO, 6 Harmonics Inc

Bill Murdoch, Executive Director, Clear Sky Connections

Amy Cortina, Senior Vice President, Strategic Partnerships, UNITE-LA

Todd Harpest, External Affairs & Regulatory Director, MetaLINK Technologies, Inc.

Lora Thomas, Commissioner, Douglas County

George Teal, Commissioner, Douglas County

Jason Guzzo, CEO, Hudson Valley Wireless

Troy Walcott, President, People's Choice Communications

Flite Freimann, Director, Washington County Department of Job and Family Services

Shrihari Pandit, Member , Stealth Communications

Greg P. Metzger, CEO, Yellowstone Fiber

Jim Candelaria, Chairman, Montezuma County

Bob Knight, President & CEO, Harrison Edwards, Inc.

Larry R. Mincks, Washington County Sheriff, Washington County Sheriff's Office

Mark Sur, Founder, ELMT Consulting

Petra Falcon, Executive Director, Promise Arizona

Kathy Chandler-Henry, Matt Scherr & Jeanne McQueeney, Eagle County Commissioners, Eagle County Government

Leslie Wollack, Executive Director, National Association of Regional Councils

Charles R Dennie, Consultant, Broadband Solutions, LLC

Kim Alexander, CEO, Collegiate Edu-Nation

Miguel A Perez, Director of Technology, Fabens Independent School District

James M. Decker, Mayor, City of Stamford, Texas

Ryan Franklin, Senior Director, Policy & Advocacy, Educate Texas

Michael Hardrick, Library Director, Forest Hill Library District 

Kellie Wilks, Ed.D, Chief Technology Officer

Ryan Grewell, General Manager , Smart Way Communications

Eddie Trevino, Jr., Cameron County Judge, Cameron County, Texas

Martha Huizenga, COO and Co-Owner, DC Access LLC

Paul M Donovan, Principal, PMD RE Consulting Services, LLC

Mike Cariveau, CEO, Bayfield Wireless

President and CEO, Intermax Networks

Narciso Garcia, Superintendent, Vanguard Academy

Jessica Karlsruher, Executive Director, TREAD Coalition

Stanton Williams, CFO, ValleyNet/ECFiber

Sarah Holderman,  Interim General Manager, Public Utility District No. 1 of Pend Oreille County

George Caan, Executive Director, Washington Public Utility Districts Association

Reg Weiser, CEO, Positron Access Solutions Corp

Alan Yoder, President, Smartcom Telephone, LLC

Mario Lozoya, President, Lozoya Consulting, LLC, Lozoya Consulting, LLC

Nancy C Windham, President & CEO, Texas Forest Country Partnership

Amanda McAfee, President & CEO, Lubbock Area United Way

Kelly D. Cheek, Executive Director, Texas Rural Health Association

Annette Creekpaum, Manager, Mason County PUD 3

Michael Henson, Chief Operating Officer , Northwest Open Access Network

Scott Rhees, General Manager & CEO, Public Utility District No. 1 of Franklin County 

Molly Fohn, Policy Program Manager, Voqal

Joey Arnett , Owner, rNetworks LLC

Matt Deaton, General Manager & CEO, Orange County REMC 

David Stoll, General Manager & CEO, MEI Telecom Services

Jim Garrett, President, Kinex Telecom, Inc. 

Gregory Hayman, President & Managing Member, TechInfo Communications, LLC

Jennifer Carter, Chief Mission Officer, Goodwill Central Texas

Chris E. Wallace, President & CEO, North Texas Commission 

Michael Ward Jr., President & CEO, Austin Urban Technology Movement (AUTMHQ)

Lori Harnick, President & CEO, Goodwill of the Olympics & Rainier Region

Cassie Bair, Chief Business Development Executive, Mobile Citizen, LLC

Dawn Franks, President & CEO, ETMC Foundation

Neil Sheridan, Executive Director, Michigan Townships Association 

Jeff Krueger, Executive Director, Minnesota Association of Townships

Gary Cooper, President, Southern Ohio Communications

Marc Wilson, General Manager, Public Utility District No. 2 of Pacific County

Mark Webb, President, TurboNet Technologies, Inc.

Josh Luthman, President, Imagine Networks, LLC

Johnny Veselka, Member, Board of Directors, Collegiate Edu-Nation

Bethany Castro, Executive Director, United Way of the Crossroads

Heidi Fought, Executive Director, Ohio Township Association

Jerry Crabtree, Executive Director, Township Officials of Illinois

Todd Jagger, Broadband & Legislative Liaison, Jeff Davis County, Texas

Larry Syverson, Executive Secretary / Director of Governmental Relations, North Dakota Township Officers Association

Gerry Geist, Executive Director, Association of Towns of the State of New York

Mike Koles, Executive Director, Wisconsin Towns Association

Angie Cuellar, Executive Director, Cuero Chamber of Commerce

Thomas Mehlert, Executive Director, Arizona Students Recycling Used Technology

David Hoover, Principal, The Ferguson Group (TFG)

Steve Garchar, Dolores County Commissioner Chair, Dolores County

Leslie Shivers, Executive Director, Association of Colorado County Administrators 

Mike Leerar, County Commissioner, Yuma County, Colorado

Ronald E. Hadley, CEO, whererugoing.com

Ruben D. Longoria, Jr. Assistant Director, Governmental Relations, Texas Association of School Boards

Stephen Stewart, CEO, Smart Broadband LLC

Heather B. Gold, VP, External Affairs, Mears Broadband

Kevin Ancell, General Manager, STE Communications

Fred Maldonado, VP, Regulatory, Broadband & Community Relations, Astound Broadband

Mark Stanley, Director of Operations, Demand Progress Education Fund

Shirley Mewborn, Library Director, Grifton Public Library

Jack McNairy, Co-Founder, HarvestBeam Inc.

Nick Didow, Co-Founder, HarvestBeam Inc.

 Susan G Myers, Managing Partner, Eastern Carolina Broadband

Gisele Jefferson, Washington County Commissioner, Washington County

Lea Ann Laybourn, Washington County Commissioner, Washington County

Kent Vance, Washington County Commissioner, Washington County

Michael Lilliquist, City Council member, City of Bellingham, WA

Peter Jones, Llano County Commissioner Precinct 1, Llano County

Kenny Thompson, County Judge, Haskell County

Supervisor Gary Bradford, Yuba County

Jose Munoz Jr, Chief Technology Officer , Eagle Pass ISD

John Hargrove, COO, Evergreen Technology Solutions

Shukri Bana, Administrative Coordinator, Texas Rural Funders

Bonnie Fulkinbury, Operations Manager, Arizona Students Recycling Used Technology

Sharon Smith, Special Projects Administrator, Albemarle Commission Regional Council of Governments

Kurtis Heimerl, Associate Professor, Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Washington

Glenda Hackney, Utility Billing Clerk, City of Trenton

Marc Restuccia, MD, Orland Broadband Committee

Dan Graham, CTO, CMS Internet

Isa kwambo Dagona, Head Of Teachers, Spring Intercontinental Academy

Larry S Landis, Retired Commissioner, Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission

Steve Wallace, Chairman, Ouachita Parish Citizens' Broadband Advisory Committee

Karl Cureton, CEO, Council Exchange Board of Trade

David L DePrez, Board Member, Orland (Maine) Broadband Committee

Michelle Thorne, Director of Strategy, Green Web Foundation

Jim McClain, Director of IT, Montezuma County

Matthew Lawrence LeFluer, Ambassador Member, Vermont Legends of Cities and Towns Equity Commission

Bukengere Morris, Team leader, All for Integral Development

David M. Doggette, President & CEO, 2HB Incorporated

Armin Garcia, CTO, Sien, Inc.

Wayne Smith, President, WayneSmith&Associates

Jane Coffin, Independent Internet Infrastructure and Governance Expert

Samantha Schartman, Director of Philanthropic Programs

Hildie J Lipson, Kennebec Broadband Partnership Coordinator

Jared Tapley, Broadband Navigator

John Covell, Labor Relations Specialist (retired)

Cheryl DeBerry, Broadband & Energy Manager

Marlene Bullard, Rural School District Educator

Nathan Grant McCoslin, Assistant Language Teacher

Adina Dunn, Library Director

Greg Gamboa, Regional Sales Director

Laurie Kelley, Student

Cindy Hogan, Community Digital Inclusion Advocate

Andrea Merrihew, Division Manager

Juliet Martinez, Wesley Nurse (RN)

Julie Allen, Chief Learning Officer

Dr. Robert W. Chase, Professor Emeritus

Marquita Fagan, Operations Coordinator

William A. Fontana, Owner/Manager

Jason Archie, Regional Project Manager Telecommunications

Robert Grant, Government Grants Specialist

Joseph Randol, Telecom Finance & Operations Manager

Ian Martinez (Former NTIA, Microsoft)

Derek Slater

Anthony E. Vigue

Mary F Dunn

David Collado

Jawaid Bazyar

Clarence Glenn Gabriel

Debra Saner

Leroy Keith Clark, Jr.

Elaine Abbott

Travis Ralls

Ralph Hiram Trenary III

Holly L Sampson


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