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Let’s move Illinois into modern era

In a recent News-Democrat story, the Citizens Utility Board implies that AT&T is working to eliminate all landlines in Illinois. That is not accurate and I want to set the record straight.

The issue isn’t about taking anything away, it’s about delivering more of the modern communications services that consumers are demanding.

To be clear, there are two kinds of landlines consumers use today. Modern landlines provide voice service along with high-speed Internet and, in some cases, TV service. Old landlines offer plain old telephone service using 100-year-old technology.

Consumers love modern landlines and they are here to stay. But consumers decided the old landlines are a thing of the past.

Consider this: In Illinois, 82 percent of households already abandoned old landlines by choosing new technologies: modern landline and wireless. Only 18 percent still use old landlines.

Now AT&T is working to help prepare the last few Illinois consumers on old technologies for the transition to modern voice communications, whether over modern landlines or wireless services.

We want to deliver the very best services to our customers because we want to keep them. That’s why it’s in our interest to make sure medical device connections and 9-1-1 services are robust and reliable.

As the state’s telecommunications laws expire in 2015, Illinois should update its policy. Already, 17 of the 21 states where AT&T is the traditional old landline provider enacted laws to prepare for this transition, including Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana and Missouri.

Every day in Illinois, AT&T loses about 1,000 old landlines as customers switch to new technologies. Not only are customers leaving old landlines, so are the manufacturers who made them. It’s time to move on when you’re scrounging for replacement parts on eBay — and, as remarkable as it may seem, we’ve actually had to do that.

Our customers prefer we invest in modern landlines and wireless, not old landlines. Today, our economy and society increasingly rely on modern communications technologies, including education, health care, transportation, manufacturing and public safety.

CUB says old landlines are good enough for Illinois. But we believe Illinois consumers deserve more modern landlines and wireless technologies.

They’re stuck in yesterday. We’re focused on tomorrow.

In 2015, the choice for Illinois is clear: either cling to the rotary dial laws of the past or lead Illinois into the new broadband and wireless world of the future.