AT&T's 'Exciting' Experiment: Kill Town's Landline

What's happening in Carbon Hill, Ala., a sign of things to come nationwide

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted Apr 8, 2014 8:50 AM CDT

(Newser) – Some 40% of US households no longer use landline phones, and in an Alabama town, they could soon disappear entirely. In what the Wall Street Journal calls an "experiment," AT&T is looking to rid the town—as well as part of Delray Beach, Fla.—of landlines in favor of wireless and high-speed services. Pending official approval, AT&T could, starting as soon as June, remove the possibility of a landline for new customers. But as you might expect, not every resident of Carbon Hill, Ala., is happy about what the company calls "an exciting opportunity."

"Some of them like their landline, and they like it just the way it is," says the Carbon Hill city clerk. Also concerned: other telecom companies. Firms like EarthLink, for instance, depend on copper lines laid by AT&T and Verizon, while Sprint is concerned about AT&T's prices; landlines are more heavily regulated than the newer services, the Journal notes. "By changing some widget in the network, these guys are saying they can throw the rule book in the trash," says an EarthLink rep. The AARP, meanwhile, worries that services like 911 could be harder to reach without reliable landlines. The FCC, however, has already agreed to allow experiments in reducing the service.

AT&T may push an Alabama town into the future.   (Shutterstock)
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