AT&T Selects West Delray Beach Florida for National Technology Trial

By Peter Bernstein March 03, 2014

As I have noted on several occasions we live in what can be described as “The Age of Acceleration.” It is characterized by the realities that the only constants going forward are change and the speed at which it is coming at us.

In fact, in recognition of this brave new world and the need for the United States to be a leader rather than a follower in developing and deploying next generation communications capabilities in order to be competitive in the global connected economy, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Tom Wheeler has made it a cornerstone of FCC policy to encourage companies to innovate on a fast track. To this point, the FCC is overseeing pilot programs by service providers to trial in select locations the latest and greatest. 

AT&T to its credit has taken up the challenge and announced that it is proposing to select the West Delray Beach area of Florida as one of two locations to work to ensure that Florida customers, and ultimately consumers and businesses across the country, can benefit from the latest communications technologies. This pilot program will shape AT&T's efforts to develop new products and processes in the West Delray Beach community, and nationally. 

"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," said Joe S. York, President of AT&T Florida. "Our goal is to get our customers the most powerful new technologies while maintaining the reliability they have come to expect from us." 

Florida is a good place for testing

As explained in the announcement of the decision to use Delray Beach as a pilot, AT&T pointed out that it has invested more than $2.75 billion in its wireless and wired networks in Florida between 2011 through 2013. In the first half of 2013 alone the company added capacity upgrades to hundreds of cell sites, launched or expanded 4G LTE mobile broadband to more than 20 communities, and deployed advanced fiber-optic connections to nearly 18,450 additional business customer locations and deployed advanced wired IP broadband connections for consumers to nearly 25,050 customer locations in Florida. The company also noted that in 2013, it filled more than 2,970 job openings in Florida to help provide customers throughout the state with the advanced products and services they expect.

The pilot is designed to get as much customer input as possible. Customers in the West Delray Beach community will be encouraged to be engaged and informed.  AT&T in fact will hold a series of community information meetings for residents and businesses to learn more about the planned trial and how they can participate with dates, times and locations that will be announced soon for these meetings.

The FCC called on companies to submit proposals to conduct trials where new connections and services will be rolled out in a community and offered to consumers, all while ensuring the values of universal service, competition, public safety, reliability and consumer protection continue to be met.

York explained that, “Through the trials, we hope to learn how best to deliver new and enhanced connections to our customers. We will be working with the FCC (which will oversee the trials), our customers, and the West Delray Beach community, to identify any issues, special needs, and considerations that may arise. We will then work to find solutions that best serve our customers…We also pledge that this process will be open and transparent, so that as more of our customers choose to use newer, faster devices, we can make certain that all the things you need to keep you safe and healthy — 911, medical services, home alarms — continue to be there for you.”

With the speed at which technologic innovation is accelerating, while it might not be a reason to move to West Delray Beach, it certainly is going to be a reason to see how all of this evolves and how fast what is learned can be applied nationally.  This may be a multi-year pilot, but the hope is that what works can lead to product and service realization quickly.  Stay tuned.

Edited by Cassandra Tucker
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