New Connections on the Horizon in Carbon Hill
By Fred McCallum, President — AT&T Alabama
Carbon Hill has been proposed by AT&T as one of two locations in the country where we will implement a new trial technology program overseen by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). This will serve as the model for providing our customers with access to our ultra-fast, Internet-based network.
What we learn together in Carbon Hill will enable cities, small towns and rural communities across America to take advantage of this communications technology.
We are excited to work with our customers, to hear about their experiences and to understand what we can do to make their transition to the future of technology safe, easy, simple and seamless. We will be on the ground in Carbon Hill talking to customers about their communications needs, so that we can find solutions and put them in place — both here in Alabama and around the country.
I am excited that Carbon Hill has been selected for this trial. AT&T and our Alabama employees are proud to be a part of the fabric of our state. We live and work here; we send our children and grandchildren to the local schools; we cheer on the local sports teams; and we shop at the local stores. We know we provide more than just a service; we are connecting our friends, our neighbors and our communities to another. This trial will help ensure that AT&T can continue giving Carbon Hill, and all of Alabama, the efficient, reliable and affordable connections they want.
Recapping our first few informational sessions
A little over a week ago, AT&T announced its proposed selection of two locations – Carbon Hill, Alabama and the West Delray Beach area of Florida – for a trial technology program. Overseen by the FCC, the trial program will help us to ensure that the products and connections that more of our customers in Alabama and across the U.S. are using – and the Internet-based network that fuels them – are safe, reliable, and there when you need them.
Our commitment throughout the trial isn’t just to the technology, but to the community and the customers that it connects. We want to make sure that the products and services that people rely on work whenever and wherever they need them to work. But, as important, we want to make sure that, at every step of the way throughout the trial process, the Carbon Hill community and all of its residents know that we are there to answer their questions, listen to their experiences, and provide any information that they need.
Since the announcement, we’ve held our first two public meetings in Carbon Hill. On March 6, we were at the Carbon Hill Community Center, and on March 8, we met with residents at American Legion Post 101. We had a really good turnout of Carbon Hill community members and leaders at both events, including the new Mayor Pro Tem and members of the City Council and staff for the state Public Service Commission, a number of customers who live in the area and residents who are actively involved in the Carbon Hill community. Members of the AT&T Alabama team and I were able to spend one-on-one time with just about every person who attended. We heard directly from Carbon Hill residents about their questions and concerns, as well as the products and services they rely on to connect and communicate today, and what they want for the future.
The discussion around all of the different ways that people in Carbon Hill are connecting underscored for me how hard we must continue to work to make sure that these connections are reliable, dependable and accessible. Whether people are using cell phones, tablets, laptops, home computers or home phones, all of the Carbon Hill meeting attendees want these connections to work, seamlessly, when and where they need them. At the town hall meetings, some residents had questions about their service today, for instance: what cell phone plans are available that could help them and their families save money; or, what speed service they receive today. Others wanted to know about what was in store for them tomorrow, namely: what does this trial mean for them; and what, if anything, will they need to do?
Sitting down, one-on-one with Carbon Hill residents, we were able to discuss their individual questions, and provide reassurance. For example, one concern expressed at both events was about what this means for folks’ current home phone connections. AT&T is committed to ensuring that our customers’ connections are accessible, reliable and affordable – no matter how they connect.
We weren’t able to answer every single question that arose, but we are working hard to do so. This trial is a multi-year process, and is designed to help us work with the FCC, with local and state government, and with the leaders and residents in Carbon Hill to identify the questions and issues that are out there, and test, gather additional information and implement solutions that will work best. Identifying issues and questions are a critical part of this process. Your feedback and openness are vitally important as we explore and discover the opportunities in front of all of us.