AT&T is committed to bridging digital divide

In Chicago, we have deployed AT&T Fiber to numerous predominantly Black neighborhoods, including on the south and west sides.

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People walk past an AT&T store.

Timothy A. Clary/AFP via Getty Images

A recent op-ed titled “Internet providers must prioritize minority communities” made unfortunate and inaccurate allegations about AT&T’s work to connect people in Chicago.We’d like to set the record straight.

We agree that access to high-speed internet is critical to unlockpossibilities, opportunities and innovations that enable people to live, learn, work and play.We also agree that far too many Americans still can’t or don’t connect to high-speed internet services mainly due to issues around affordability, adoption or availability.We agree this must change.

However, the claim that the “one problem” causing the digital divide is that prominent telecommunications companies are engaging in “modern-day redlining, discriminating in who gets access to high-speed internet” is not accurate. The assertion that AT&T has a “clear record” of digital redlining in Illinois is false.The one source cited to support the allegation is analytically flawed.

SEND LETTERS TO: letters@suntimes.com. We want to hear from our readers. To be considered for publication, letters must include your full name, your neighborhood or hometown and a phone number for verification purposes. Letters should be a maximum of approximately 350 words maximum.

We make deployment decisions based on neutral economic factors including the competitive landscape of an area and the cost of deployment. In Chicago, we have deployed AT&T Fiber to numerous predominantly Black neighborhoods on the south and west sides.In Cook County, AT&T invested nearly $1.2 billion in our wired and wireless networks from 2018 through 2020.Across our 21-state footprint, we have deployed fiber equally to majority and minority populations, as well as to consumers across the economic spectrum.

Also flawed is the claim that low-income communities of color in Illinois lack access to high-speed broadband.According to the FCC Fixed Broadband Deployment map, about 99% of Cook County residents have access to broadband speeds of 250 megabits per second.

AT&T is committed to bridging the digital divide through investments in network upgrades and fiber deployment, and by participating in federal programs to increase affordability and community-based initiatives that foster greater digital adoption. We are opening two AT&T Connected Learning Centers in Chicago providing free high-speed internet, devices and educational resources. We are investing billions annually to upgrade our network and deploy fiber throughout Chicago and across the country. We’ve deployed fiber-based broadband to about 17 million locations with plans to nearly double that coverage by 2025.

AT&T is working hard to connect more people to a world of new opportunities.

Eileen Mitchell, President, AT&T Illinois

No safe haven from gun violence

Tragically, in 21st Century America, we find ourselves in a situation where there is no safe haven from gun violence. When we leave our homes, there is no guarantee we will return safely. This is a sad situation in a country that prides itself on being the greatest country in the world. We are gradually taking on the title of the most unsafe country in the world.

And all because of the gun and people with hatred in their hearts. Should this situation be at the top of the list of problems that need immediate attention? The answer is a resounding yes — along with climate change.

Can we expect meaningful solutions to these two issues anytime soon? I would not bet on it. There are many who do not believe in climate change and others who believe that the more guns around, the better. Add the virus epidemic to the mix and the future looks bleak.

Ned L. McCray, Tinley Park

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