Rausch has been the business editor since September 2008, previously serving as senior business reporter. He joined the Chronicle in April 2007. He has written for newspapers in Napoleon, Ohio, Moline, Ill., and Lima, Ohio. He holds a bachelor of science in journalism from Ohio University (1992). In 2006, he received a second place award in business writing from the Association Press in Ohio.
Posted April 23, 2014 12:52 pm

AT&T finds new use for the landline in Augusta

As people continue to cut the cord on the landline phone in homes, what is a company to do with all that wiring?


Find something else to stream down the wire to customers.


In the last three years, AT&T has spent $100 million on upgrades in the Augusta area, primarily to transition over to IP-based networks for the wire and wireless.


Stan Shepherd, the regional director for Augusta, said the upgrade to the wires have been to get ready for U-verse. That’s its equivalent to a cable company bundle of television, high speed internet and phone.


U-verse has been available in the area since March, though the company hasn’t been touting it vocally until now.


The service has been available for years in bigger cities, but AT&T has been pushing it out to smaller cities.


Television is crowded in this market. There’s already three cable companies and two satellite dish companies, in addition to the online streaming services.


“Where we’ve gotten into it in other areas, we’ve been very competitive,” Shepherd replied. “We’ve been able to pull market share. We still feel the Augusta market is a good place for it. It is a unique product. It is video over IP.”


Shepherd had some statistics. Only 30 percent of households in America still have a traditional landline telephone and 500,000 people are detaching from that line every month.


“We know the trend. But broadband is still something that people are looking for because of the speeds,” he said. “That is still driven toward the wireline side of the house. It is still some way to maintain that investment in the ground.”


But some of that $100 million also went into AT&T’s wireless network. That’s the 4G LTE. That’s upgrading the cell sites and putting up some new ones.


“It’s essentially broadband wireless,” Shepherd said.