Bridging the Digital Divide: AT&T’s Vision for Connectivity and Community Impact

January 19, 2024

AT&T Logo along with 3 AT&T workers

In the ever-evolving landscape of technology and communication, AT&T stands as a testament to resilience and innovation. Recently, YOUR Chamber team sat down with Kathleen Evans, Regional Director, External Affairs with AT&T to learn about the company’s rich history, its commitment to community connectivity, and the strides it’s making to bridge the digital divide.

Heritage of Service: Connecting North Carolina Communities for 144 Years

AT&T began providing service in North Carolina in 1879. From landlines to home internet to smartphones, AT&T has been connecting North Carolina communities to greater possibility for 144 years. Yet, even with this shared history across the state, AT&T’s focus is always on the future. In 2022, AT&T sold off Warner Media to focus on its core connectivity strengths—building fiber broadband networks, 5G networks, and public safety networks.

FirstNet: A Game-Changer for Public Safety

One significant stride made by AT&T is the creation of FirstNet, a dedicated wireless network for public safety.

“Going back in time to the events of 9/11, you had first responders in the towers, who couldn’t communicate to the ground personnel because they were carrying different kinds of devices on different networks. One of the learnings of the 9/11 Commission was the need to provide a better, more ubiquitous tool for public safety so everybody can communicate with each other at the same time. Congress appropriated some seed funding for this public safety network it was tested, and deemed to be a great tool, and from there, the FirstNet was created,” Evans shared.Picture of a FirstNet truck at a telephone pole

FirstNet ensures that first responders have a reliable, fast, and secure network to communicate during emergencies. With more than 27,000 public safety agencies and millions of subscribers, In North Carolina, first responders in more than 350 communities across the state are staying connected with FirstNet, Built with AT&T. FirstNet has become an essential tool for first responders, addressing the shortcomings exposed during critical events like 9/11.

“Connectivity is especially important for our public safety members who put their lives on the line to protect our communities,” said Evans. “At AT&T, we feel honored and obligated to serve the public safety with reliable connections.”

5G and Network Investments: Shaping the Future

AT&T’s commitment to innovation is evident in its relentless pursuit of network investments and enhancements. From 2020 to 2022, AT&T invested more than $1.8 billion in its wireline and wireless infrastructure in North Carolina. In 2022 alone, the company completed over 2,200 wireless enhancements and added 44 new cell towers in the state. With a focus on deploying 5G technology, AT&T is not only revolutionizing the way we connect but also leading the charge in ensuring that rural areas, underserved communities and first responders benefit from the latest advancements in network technology.

 Closing the Digital Divide: Access from AT&T Program

AT&T’s dedication to community impact extends beyond technology. The Access from AT&T program aims to close the digital divide by offering low-cost broadband to eligible households. With speeds up to 100 Mbps, the program addresses not only the need for connectivity but also makes it accessible and affordable for those who may not have had the opportunity otherwise.

With the recent approval of the Broadband Equity Access and Deployment (BEAD) program, AT&T looks forward to playing a pivotal role in connecting America. This $42.5 billion federal funding initiative aligns with the company’s commitment to serving communities and ensuring that no one is left behind in the digital age.

AT&T’s journey in North Carolina from 1879 to its current position as a leader in technology and connectivity reflects its commitment to service, innovation, and community impact. As technology continues to shape our world, AT&T stands at the forefront, bridging gaps, connecting communities, and contributing to a more connected future for all.

Last modified: January 19, 2024

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