New Connections on the Horizon for West Delray Beach community
By Joe York, AT&T President — Florida, Puerto Rico & US-VI
As you may know, AT&T has announced the selection of the West Delray Beach area of Florida as one of two locations nationwide for a multi-year technology trial to be overseen by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). This pilot program will shape AT&T’s efforts to develop new products and processes in the West Delray Beach community — and nationally. The announcement is in response to a request by the FCC to companies to submit proposals to conduct trials where connections and services would be rolled out and offered to customers.
In greater numbers, and with greater frequency than ever before, consumers and businesses are choosing to use newer technologies and devices that enable more choices in how they connect: video, email, text and voice. These connections not only benefit consumers, but also communities and important community institutions, including schools, hospitals, police and fire stations, and businesses. Students can access education resources on the other side of the country or world; first responders can have the best real-time information going into emergency situations; and businesses can reach out to and expand in new markets on the other side of the state and other side of the globe.
This trial presents an important opportunity for Floridians to gain access to new technologies and products, while ensuring that the essential values of universal service, competition, public safety, reliability and consumer protection are preserved. Our goal is to get our customers the most powerful new technologies while maintaining the reliability they have come to expect from us.
Updating you on the IP Trials
It’s been several weeks since AT&T submitted a filing to the FCC proposing to conduct technology trials in two communities in the U.S.: the West Delray Beach area of Florida, and Carbon Hill, Alabama. The trials will enable us to work together with the FCC, our customers and others as we study and plan the move forward – from the use of traditional, voice only networks, to Internet-based networks and everything they enable (email, text, voice, video and more).
In the days since we made this filing, we have been meeting with West Delray Beach community leaders, residents and others to provide more information about what we would like to do, and what it means for them, and answer questions that they have. And, on March 18th, we held our first public meeting at the Hagen Ranch Road public library branch. Over 35 members of the Delray community attended, including State Senator Joseph Abruzzo and Palm Beach County Commissioner Mary Lou Berger. We had a great discussion and fielded questions and took feedback from just about everyone who attended. The fact that nearly everyone who attended took the time to ask a question during the meeting, or took time after the meeting to talk with me or one of the AT&T Florida team members, is a great sign.
This trial isn’t just about technology or our network; it is about the West Delray community and our customers who live here. Throughout this process, we are committed to working with our customers – to engaging them in this process, listening to their concerns, answering their questions, and making sure that they know who to reach or where to go at any point for information. In the coming weeks and months, we will hold at least two more public events in the West Delray Beach area, in addition to meeting with individual groups and community residents. And this conversation and customer engagement is happening online as well as in person. We have responded to those who have posted on our blog and those who have contacted us and asked questions related to the trial in West Delray Beach.
The most frequent questions we have received from West Delray Beach area customers and residents are: what does this trial mean for me? What are you doing, and how will it impact me? Many are excited about the potential of getting U-Verse, and about their hopes that this trial will deliver more, and high quality, access to newer products and services.
Our Delray customers of all ages have integrated technology seamlessly into their lives to help them communicate, connect, access information and remain safe and healthy – whether this is by communicating with children and grandchildren via Skype; using DTV to “record” and watch favorite TV programs whenever they like; accessing information related to retirement savings from the comfort of their own homes (and after bankers hours); or fill out grocery shopping lists online and set up home delivery.
The questions and concerns that have been raised center on the need to make sure that these connections and products work as well, and are as safe and reliable and dependable, as the older products that customers have relied on for decades. Alarm and medical device compatibility; the ability to reach 911; battery back up in the case of natural disaster – these are all questions have been raised and all are areas of paramount importance and concern. We are working hard to develop and put solutions in place that address each and every one of these. That is what the trial is for: to help us work with our customers and others in the community, and with the FCC and local and state government, to hear what questions and concerns exist, to develop solutions, and to put these in place. And all of this will be done while the traditional telephone network is in place.
So, the answer to the question “what do you want from me?” is simply: your voice, your thoughts and your input. We are at the very beginning of this process. Our customers are a critical part of it. So keep the questions coming, continue to share your thoughts, stay involved in the conversation, and know that we look forward to hearing from – and working with – you.