I am proud to be part of the AT&T team in Mississippi.
Every day, the men and women who work for AT&T and call Mississippi home are doing the hard work that matters to Mississippians—deploying high-speed infrastructure and extending connectivity to communities across the state.
Having said that, you may have heard questions raised related to our participation in a federal program focused on rural connectivity.
To be clear, we are in full compliance with the program’s requirements. The law requires it. Indeed, just last week, the Mississippi Public Service Commission unanimously certified our plans to participate in the program, finding that they were consistent with the law and with FCC requirements. And further, the data we report related to that program is subject to strict audit and compliance measures by the federal government.
In fact, we met all previous milestones in this federal program and are ahead of schedule on our remaining build requirements in Mississippi.
As a result of the tremendous work being done by our team, we are confident we will exceed the final federal target of making high-speed services available to more than 133,000 previously unserved or underserved, rural Mississippi locations by the end of this year.
Our team is focused on work that matters to Mississippians. More than 2,200 men and women work for AT&T and call Mississippi home. They do incredible work – to close the remaining connectivity gap and keep communities connected.
For families and educators dealing with school closures, this work matters.
For businesses that rely on connectivity to meet their customers’ needs, to create jobs and to be successful, this work matters.
For first responders who are keeping our communities safe and healthy, this work matters.
For communities across Mississippi, this work matters, and it’s fueled by the hundreds of millions of dollars we invest in our wired and wireless networks each year in Mississippi. We invested nearly $750 million from 2017-2019 alone.
Of course, despite the hard work being done by our team, we recognize the gaps in connectivity and service adoption in Mississippi cannot be fixed by us alone.
As a result of investments from cable providers, traditional telecom providers, wireless providers and now electric cooperatives, there are more options for service in Mississippi.
It is also important to recognize that while investments are closing the remaining digital divide, the benefits of high-speed broadband connectivity are only achieved if Mississippians actually subscribe to them.
No matter the product, service, or provider, data shows a sizeable gap between access to high-speed Internet and consumer adoption of those services.
State and local leaders can help provide valuable insight into what is actually keeping their residents from subscribing to broadband – whether it be an issue of age, household income, digital literacy issue or lack of access to equipment. This information is critical when addressing each community’s unique needs.
Without question, there is a lot of important work to do, and media posturing does not increase connectivity or adoption in rural Mississippi.
Doing the hard work of deploying fiber, enhancing wireless infrastructure, and installing in-home connections is what makes a difference.
For our part, we will continue working alongside the state’s many other broadband providers to do what matters to close the connectivity gap in Mississippi.
Please stay safe and healthy,