AT&T is making moves to get into rural broadband service. The company announced today that it would support fixed wireless service to rural areas in 8 states. The offering is part of AT&T’s work with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Connect America Fund.
The states included in today’s announcement are – Alabama; Florida; Kentucky; North and South Carolina; Tennessee and Louisiana.
AT&T says it plans to continue adding states throughout the year. Those on the list include: Arkansas, California, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Ohio, Texas, and Wisconsin.
The company claims that its fixed wireless service delivers a home internet connection with download speeds of at least 10Mbps. The connection comes from a wireless tower to a fixed antenna on customers’ homes or businesses. However, as CivSource and others have previously reported actual speeds may vary significantly from the advertised rate.
AT&T also has a history of making expansion plan promises every time it wants something from the government.
If it materializes as advertised, the rural broadband service would come at a time when many industry observers are worried that public funding to support broadband outside of urban centers could be under threat. On Friday, NTCA – the national rural broadband association, pointed out that ongoing cuts in funding provided by the Universal Service Fund (USF) for rural broadband are having a chilling effect on future network expansion.
On the same day, DSL Reports noted that AT&T’s CEO Randall Stephenson made an appearance on CNBC to talk up a proposed $22 billion broadband expansion plan. The plan seems to be contingent on the Trump administration focusing in on tax reform (read: lowering AT&T’s corporate taxes).