With much fanfare, State President of AT&T Mississippi Mayo Flint, along with U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, unveiled plans for AT&T's Fixed Wireless Internet, making it available for rural and underserved locations in parts of DeSoto County.

They were joined by Northern District Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley, District 4 Supervisor Lee Caldwell and a host of officials who gathered in a muddy bean field, near an AT&T telecommunications tower off Old Miss. Hwy. 304 near Eudora.

Flint said as part of this commitment across 18 states, AT&T plans to reach more than 400,000 locations throughout 18 states by the end of 2017, and over 1.1 million locations by 2020. AT&T plans to reach over 130,000 locations with this technology across Mississippi by 2020.

Flint said delivering broadband internet service to rural underdeserved areas has been AT&T's challenge.

According to Flint, AT&T's Fixed Wireless Internet Service delivers a home internet connection with speeds of at least 10Mbps. The connection comes from a wireless tower to a fixed antenna on customers' homes or businesses. "This is an efficient way to deliver high-quality internet to customers in rural and underserved areas," Flint said. "This will be capable of delivering a fixed wireless signal at a speed of 10 megabits per second, more than enough to do web browsing with plenty of speed and to stream your favorite movie or TV show."

The telecommunications infrastructure was made possible through the FCC Connect America Fund.

For his part, Wicker said he views the new AT&T wireless connectivity as a "job creator." Wicker serves as Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, and the Internet.

"The future growth of Mississippi's economy relies on innovation and investment like we are seeing announced today with AT&T's Fixed Wireless Internet Technology," Wicker said. "High-speed internet service from AT&T in this part of DeSoto County and other designated areas across Mississippi provides a great example of the innovative thinking necessary to help close the remaining connectivity gap in rural areas across the state."

District 4 Supervisor Lee Caldwell lauded AT&T's commitment.

"This announcement by AT&T to bring additional high-speed internet service here is good for the overall quality quality of life for the citizens in our county," Caldwell said. "High-speed internet is as important as the road in front of your house."

DeSoto County Board of Supervisors President Michael Lee said healthcare is a major component to the region's economy.

"From economic development and education to healthcare and farming, high-speed internet service is a key part of helping our communities grow and succeed. This increased access to high-speed internet service from AT&T is very good for DeSoto County."

Northern District Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley said having high-speed internet is a major development in the region.

"Broadband is the electricity of the 21st century," said Presley, who has worked diligently to "Zap the Gap" or improve Broadband service in DeSoto County and the northwest Mississippi region. "These type of projects make a difference in the lives of Mississippians. It's like what electricity did 100 years ago."

Robert Lee Long is Community Editor of the DeSoto Times-Tribune. He may be contacted at rlong@desototimestribune.com or at 662-429-6397, Ext. 252.

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