AT&T To Test Next-Generation Services in Alabama, Florida

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Two different areas in the U.S. will play guinea pig to AT&T’s (NYSE:T) effort to move away from the old copper-based phone system that has been used across the country for decades. The company will shift these areas to newer, high-capacity fiber-optic lines, the Washington Post reports.

The outcome of AT&T’s experiments may help regulators decide whether or not to allow AT&T and other telecom companies to stop offering traditional wired service, opting instead for new wireless services as more and more customers migrate in that direction.

AT&T has picked two different communities in Alabama and Florida to use as test sites. If the project is approved by the Federal Communications Commission, it will affect thousands of people in rural Carbon Hill, Alabama, and thousands more in the larger community of West Delray Beach, Florida, where many elderly retirees call home; almost a quarter of the population there is older than 65.

The company will begin by asking customers to switch to the new wireless services. If a later version of the project is approved, the company could be allowed to stop offering the traditional wired services altogether.

“We want to make sure our customers are comfortable with the new services,” said Hank Hultquist, AT&T’s vice president federal regulatory said, speaking with Bloomberg.

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