AT&T (NYSE: T) is reportedly moving forward with plans for a rural Internet access trial in Walker County, Al. The carrier said roughly 65 households in and around the city of Carbon Hill will be chosen for the three-month trial, according to a report from the Corridor Messenger, which will use antennas placed on the exteriors of homes to establish wireless connections rather than existing TDM phone service.
The trial appears to be related to AT&T's testing of its fixed local loop technology, which is occurring in states such as Alabama, Georgia, Kansas and Virginia. The carrier is reportedly using equipment from Australia's NetComm Wireless and services from Ericsson for those tests. AT&T hasn't disclosed many details about its fixed WLL tests; thus, the report from Corridor Messenger appears to provide the first details of how AT&T is proceeding with the tests.
Eligible residents in Walker County, Al., will receive high-speed Internet of no less than 10 Mbps -- and as high as 20-30 Mbps -- as well as $100 from AT&T. The carrier will conduct surveys during the trial to gauge its performance and will not offer the service once the trial is complete. According to the Corridor Messenger report, the carrier will install the antennas for free on users' homes, and then remove them at the end of the three-month trial.
The trial appears to be part of a larger plan by AT&T to transition away from legacy TDM services to IP-based telecommunications. The company is looking to phase out copper-line networks which can be expensive to maintain -- particularly in isolated rural areas -- but generate decreasing revenues in an increasingly wireless world.
An AT&T representative was not immediately available for comment on the Carbon Hill trial.
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