Meeting Consumer Demand
for advanced Internet-based services
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.
Reaching Out to West Delray Beach Area Residents: An Update
When I talk with customers across Florida, many of them tell me how they use technology to make their lives easier and connect to their loved ones. It used to be that products and devices connected us to a place. If you were in Miami and wanted to talk to your grandparents in Minnesota, you called their home phone. Today, newer technologies and products link us to places, people, ideas and information. Whether you are in Miami, Mississippi or Munich, you can connect via call, video chat, social media, text or send photos. Friends in different cities can play video games together online; brothers and sisters can share the suspense of their favorite TV shows via text; family members separated by miles (or oceans) can celebrate birthdays and other special events using real-time video chats.
At AT&T, our goal is two-fold: to bring these newer products and technologies to more Americans, and to make sure that these newer connections are just as seamless and reliable as the older ones. To make this happen, last February we announced the selection of two locations where technology trial programs would be conducted. The West Delray Beach area of Florida is one of these. The technology trial that takes place here provides us with the opportunity to work with and hear from our customers and community members about their experiences with our products and services, to share information and to answer questions.
Since last February’s announcement, we have been reaching out to our customers in the West Delray Beach area to discuss the transition with them. We’ve held a number of events, participated in community and association meetings, and worked with local organizations to answer questions, provide information, and talk about what this all means for our customers. And we have focused our efforts not only on our residential and business customers in the area, but also on making sure that we are communicating with seniors in the area and consumers with disabilities.
To reach out to local seniors, we have partnered with the Delray Alliance and with local homeowners associations. Throughout last year and the beginning of this year, we have held a number of events with these organizations in order to offer senior residents an opportunity to ask questions, learn more about the trials, and become more familiar with smartphones, tablets and other devices. At these “tech trainings”, we’ve worked with West Delray area seniors to help them learn how to use their phones to take and send photos; to set up and use the calendar feature on their devices to set regular reminders for doctors’ appointments or to remember to take medication; and how to find, download and use apps that can help them access their favorite newspapers and magazines. At our Senior Tech Training event in late March for Pines of Delray residents, one attendee said: “I now know how to do everything on my list! I am going to show my grandkids! They will be so proud of me!” We also hosted a public screening of the documentary “Cyber Seniors”, which attracted nearly 200 attendees. The film tells the story of a group of senior citizens who learn how to navigate the Internet and forge digital connections with the help of teenage mentors.
We are also working with the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) and with local organizations that represent residents with disabilities to share information about the trials and make sure that customers in the West Delray Beach area with special communications needs are informed, can have questions answered, and understand what the trial means for them.
And we will continue to have meetings and convene events and informational sessions in the coming weeks and months so that West Delray Beach area customers and community members can stay informed and involved, including additional tech trainings, information sessions and a product demonstration event. For more information about when these meetings will be held, or about the trials generally, you can visit our website at any point (ip4westdelraybeach.com). We’re holding all these sessions and meetings because we want to hear from you. Come to our community meetings; call or e-mail; visit our website—tell us what excites you about the technologies and products we’re offering and let us know what questions you have.
Our goal has always been, and always will be, to keep our customers connected to the people and things that matter most to them. We would love to hear from you while we continue to do just that.