Meeting Consumer Demand for advanced Internet-based services

Picture of AT&T Alabama State President Fred McCallumNew 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. 

Read more about the National Technology Trial.



Updating You On Our Progress in Carbon Hill

Posted by Fred McCallum on June 18, 2014

We all know the way we communicate is changing. When I talk to friends and neighbors, business owners and customers across Alabama, we marvel at how far we’ve come: from corded phones attached to our kitchen wall; to home phones that deliver connections using newer technologies (like VoIP and AT&T’s wireless home phone), cell phones, and other devices that help us not only talk, but also text, email and video chat from wherever we are. And it is exciting to think about what tomorrow will bring – how technology will help us connect in more, new and different ways.

Last Friday, the FCC discussed and reviewed AT&T’s proposal to move forward with our multi-year technology trials in Carbon Hill, Alabama and the West Delray Beach area of Florida, moving us closer to a future powered by these newer connections and the benefits they make possible.

Our goal with this trial is to make sure our customers can obtain access to these newer connections and technologies. High speed Internet access, U-Verse, VoIP and AT&T’s wireless home phone and mobile devices like tablets, e-readers, and cell phones – these are all powered by a newer, faster network. The trial will help us to bring this network, and the products and services it fuels, to more people and to provide connections that are reliable and dependable. This trial will provide us with the opportunity to work with customers who have not yet transitioned to our new network to make sure they are able do so safely and seamlessly. And we are committed to doing so in a way that ensures and preserves the essential values of universal service, competition, public safety, reliability, and consumer protection.

We’ve been out in the Carbon Hill community over the last few months, talking with customers and community members about the trial. We’ve held a number of public meetings and met with customers and Carbon Hill residents at the Community Center and in their homes. We’ve presented to the City Council, and partnered with the Carbon Hill Senior Center to talk to older residents about the trial and what it means for them, and how to use some of the newer products and technologies (like tablet computers). We’ve answered questions and listened to ideas and concerns.

If you’ve attended one of our meetings, or had the opportunity to meet or talk with us, I thank you. If you haven’t yet, we will be holding more meetings in the days, weeks and months to come. For us, one of the most important elements of the trial is that it is open, responsible and transparent. That means working with the FCC, state and local government, the Carbon Hill community and with our customers. That means, throughout the trial, working together with you; listening to and learning from you; providing the information that you need; answering your questions and addressing your concerns.

Really, that’s what this trial is about: ensuring that our customers—the communities we serve—have the power of new technologies and strong connections available to them. That’s always been our goal at AT&T, and it will continue as a guiding force going forward.

Keeping Carbon Hill Connected

Posted by Terri Williams, Regional Director for Legislative and External Affairs for AT&T Alabama on April 29, 2014

Last week, AT&T held an interactive “Technology 101” training session at the Carbon Hill Community Center. It was an opportunity for Carbon Hill residents of all ages to learn about and experience using new devices, and see first-hand how these technologies can help them easily connect, communicate and stay informed. From taking “selfies”, to using smartphones to send Facebook messages to friends and family, to learning how tablets can be used to connect to the Internet on-the-go to check the weather or nearby gas prices – these are all small but important ways that we have integrated technology into our lives to make getting important information easy and to help make (and share) new memories instantly with friends and family no matter where they live.

The technology trials that we have proposed to the FCC to conduct in Carbon Hill are really all about helping everyone – no matter their age, income, where they live or level of “tech savvy” – to discover new ways to seamlessly stay connected and access information. To help everyone connect to the people, places and things that they care most about, and to do so simply, reliably and at the touch of a button. Whether it is a college professor who wants to hold “office hours” with students remotely using Skype, a doctor who wants to send patients a text or an email to remind them of an upcoming appointment, or a grandparent who wants to use his phone to take and send a photo to grandchildren that live across the state – these are all ways that people in Carbon Hill and across the nation are using technology.

And, as the availability of technologies like wireless and broadband increases, more people (and businesses and communities) will be able to use the products and devices these technologies enable to do more. If we can watch our favorite television show on our smartphone today; if doctors can perform “remote surgery” from thousands of miles away from their patients; if entrepreneurs can set up shop in Carbon Hill and connect with customers and suppliers (and compete with other businesses) from around the world – imagine what we will be able to do in the future! An event like the one we held in Carbon Hill last week is designed to make sure that we are helping everyone learn how to use these technologies so that they can get the most out of them.

Over the past few months we have had many opportunities to meet and talk to members of the Carbon Hill community. We have held events at the Community Center and have been invited to speak with community leaders. We have visited the homes of Carbon Hill residents and talked to business owners and teachers and customers about the questions and issues that are most important to them. We want to hear what Carbon Hill residents have to say, and we consider you an important partner in this effort. What you tell us – about the questions you have, about the ways that technology can help in your day to day lives - will not only help shape the trial here in Carbon Hill, but also will help inform the eventual rollout of these technologies and the transition to an IP-based network in communities across America.

Keep an eye on our Click HERE icon events page for more information about upcoming trainings and events where you can learn more about our proposed trials and we can answer any questions you might have.

Looking Forward To Our Next Events in Carbon Hill

Posted by Fred McCallum on March 21, 2014

We have now held our first four public meetings in Carbon Hill on the proposed trial technology program. In addition to the events held on March 6 and March 8, we convened meetings at the Carbon Hill Community Center on the evenings of March 11 and March 13. We also made a presentation to the City Council during our March 11 town hall meeting.

At each event, a number of customers, community members and leaders attended, and shared their questions, experiences and insights with us. We are encouraged that so many people have come out to meet with us and to share their questions. As with our two earlier events, we were able to spend one-on-one time with just about every person who attended last week’s meetings. This gave us the valuable opportunity to hear directly from our customers.

Carbon Hill customers – like consumers across the U.S. – are increasingly choosing to connect using newer and different products and devices. They rely on these connections to help them stay in touch with friends and family, access important information, and perform their jobs. So, as this trial moves forward, we understand the importance of assuring that these connections are reliable and dependable. And we are committed to doing so. Our customers in Carbon Hill want their connections to work – seamlessly, from wherever they are, no matter how they connect, and we are working to ensure this.

We will continue to be in Carbon Hill, meeting with, and listening to, our customers and community members. Starting this Thursday, March 20, and for the next three weeks, we will be holding evening informational sessions at the Carbon Hill Community Center from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.

We have also said – and are committed to assuring – that the transition from older technologies and networks to newer ones is as seamless as possible for everyone. The benefits of technology should be available and accessible to all ages and generations. In the coming weeks, we will be hosting events and specific outreach to seniors, to answer their questions and concerns and show them how easy and seamless it is to connect and communicate using different products and technologies.

And there are others for whom a strong, reliable connection is critical in their daily lives because of a particular disability, or who depend on connected medical devices that monitor their health. In the interest of making certain that we fully identify and resolve operational, technical and logistic issues, we will be conducting specific outreach – including events – to address questions related to these customers and their connections.

In the meantime, we are pleased with the spirit of collaboration and interest shown by the people of Carbon Hill and welcome even more of your questions and requests for information.

Recapping our first few informational sessions

Posted by Fred McCallum on March 14, 2014

Picture of Antenna TowerA 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.

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