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September 30, 2013 Q&A

AT&T: State needs new rules for 21st century technology

Q&A talks about how telecom giant AT&T is investing in new technologies and wireless networks with John Emra, the company's newest Connecticut president.

Q: You will lead AT&T's legislative, regulatory and community affairs activities in Connecticut. What are some of the regulatory and legislative issues facing AT&T in Connecticut?

A: What is really important from both the perspective of our company and more importantly consumers in this state is making sure that Connecticut has in place rules which will encourage investment in new cutting-edge broadband technologies. Those technologies are increasingly central to both commerce and to improving the overall quality of life in Connecticut. The right rules will foster investment, grow jobs, and give consumers the services they want.

Q: AT&T has been seeking state legislation in Connecticut and around the country that would deregulate its land-line business. What would deregulation mean for AT&T and why do you think it has had difficulty getting legislation passed?

A: We have been working with policymakers in the states and in Washington, D.C. to ensure that we have 21st century rules for 21st century technologies. Many of the rules which are in place today were designed during a time and place which no longer exists and ultimately hurt consumers because they limit investment in the very technologies and services that consumers want. While we have been successful in those efforts in many places, I believe in those where we haven't there has been a lot of confusion and misunderstanding of our goals. We look forward to starting a dialogue and working collaboratively with all stakeholders — I think we will see that we agree on much more than that on which we disagree.

Q: AT&T has invested $140 million in Connecticut networks in 2013. Where were those investments made and what capital investments will the company be making in the future?

A: That $140 million represented investments by AT&T into its wired and wireless networks throughout Connecticut in just the first half of this year. In practical terms those investments have helped to build our LTE (long-term evolution) wireless network — the fastest and most reliable wireless LTE network of any provider; and have allowed us to make wired broadband available to more homes and businesses and to increase the speeds we can offer as well.

Q: You were quoted in an article as saying AT&T's focus in the next five years will be on the “Internet of everything, the Internet of things.” In effect, every device will be connected to the Internet. What type of capital improvements will need to be made to service the Internet of everything, the Internet of things? What is AT&T Connecticut doing to prepare itself for this challenge?

A: AT&T and our competitors for that matter are going to have to be ready, willing, and able to invest in the networks and technologies we have today and the networks and technologies to come. I feel good about our position. No other company in America has invested more in the United States in the last five years than AT&T. Those investments have enabled us to have the fastest and most reliable LTE network of any provider and it shows our willingness to invest when it makes sense to do so. It also will require that we as a company be innovative, open, and willing to engage new partners to provide our customers with the solutions they want. AT&T is already a leader when it comes to connecting all manner of devices onto our broadband networks because we have embraced innovation and smart risk-taking — so we can't wait for those new opportunities to arrive.

Q: AT&T has announced plans to expand and enhance AT&T's wireline IP network to approximately 57 million customer locations in its wireline service area by year-end 2015. How close to completion is that in Connecticut and what impact will have on television, telephone and Internet service here?

A: Our consumer wireline IP network is getting bigger and it is getting faster. We have made our service available to thousands of more homes and we have improved the overall experience for customers by dramatically increasing the broadband speeds we offer. We're also building out fiber-optic connections to a million businesses across the country including thousands here in Connecticut, which will give them access to industry-leading broadband speeds and all of the services that go along with them. That work for us will continue over the next year or two as we continue to build and enhance our offerings.

Q: What's holding Connecticut back from having the fastest Internet service in the country? Is it a public sector issue to solve or does it require a public-private partnership? Does Connecticut face falling further behind in the business sector without the highest-capability Internet service?

A: Connecticut is generally in a good position when it comes to broadband availability — first generation broadband is available nearly everywhere and next-generation broadband networks are being actively deployed today. But Connecticut could also be doing better. It really comes down to having the right environment for investment — that's the challenge for the public sector to meet.

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