AT&T completed the first wave of a program to provide fixed wireless internet access for rural and underserved locations, with an initial deployment in Georgia that will reach some 67,000 locations in the state by 2020.
The fixed wireless internet service provides download speeds of at least 10 Mbps, from an antenna on a tower to an antenna on a customer’s home or business. The service currently uses LTE in one of the carrier’s licensed cellular bands. In rural and underserved areas, fixed wireless access is more cost effective than routing fiber or copper and provides higher data rates than DSL service using copper.
AT&T's program is part of the FCC’s Connect America Fund. Nationwide, AT&T has committed to serve over 400,000 locations by the end of 2017 and over 1.1 million locations by 2020. AT&T will expand from Georgia to 17 more states this year: Alabama, Arkansas, California, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin.
In August 2015, AT&T accepted approximately $427 million per year in government funding to participate in the second phase of the Connect America Fund (CAF II). The funding, which will be continue for six years, will enable AT&T to deploy, maintain and offer internet access and voice service to some 1.1 million mostly rural homes and businesses in 18 states within AT&T’s traditional exchange areas.
Betsy Huber, president of the National Grange, said “AT&T's fixed wireless internet service is a great example of the innovative thinking necessary to bring high speed internet to rural and underserved communities. When you consider that farmers, ranchers and other rural residents are also small business owners, the need for high speed internet becomes obvious. This is a milestone in communications services for rural and small-town America.”