What cord cutters? AT&T reaction shows there's still demand for wires

AT&T's plans to start replacing conventional telephone wireline service with U-verse VoIP are hitting resistance from consumers who, apparently, like the old way of doing things and are making sure that regulators know it.

AT&T has sought the OK to start some small trials to see the impacts of replacing conventional wireline phone service with a U-verse package that includes broadband, TV and phone service over an IP connection, much the same as a cable triple play. The change would save the carrier money used to support an aging infrastructure and modernize services for customers, AT&T has maintained. It would also be a less regulated way of providing telecom services.

In rural areas where it's difficult to reach customers, AT&T plans to bulk up its wireless technology to feed residential voice, video and broadband service from cell sites to residential gateway devices.

Customers, the Wall Street Journal said in an article, "have inundated regulators" with opposition to the change.

"I strongly oppose the move from landlines to wireless technology," Mary Ann Hardziej, of Pleasant Ridge, Mich., wrote to the FCC. "I utilize a landline phone and I do not feel I should be forced to use wireless or U-verse for telecommunication."

AT&T is pumping billions of dollars into replacing and upgrading its infrastructure via what it calls Project Velocity IP (VIP), which it announced in late 2012.

"This is a major commitment to invest in 21st Century communications infrastructure for the United States and bring high-speed Internet connectivity—4G LTE mobile and wireline IP broadband—to millions more Americans," said Randall Stephenson, AT&T chairman and chief executive officer, said in the company's announcement at that time.

Of late, the carrier has issued periodic news releases detailing Project VIP investments across the 22 states where it has a franchise footprint.

For more:
- see this Wall Street Journal blog post

Related articles:
AT&T bundles TV, Internet and HBO to attract cord cutters
AT&T spends $2.95B on Illinois networks, expands U-verse, business fiber reach
Windstream says AT&T's IP pilot doesn't address FCC's wholesale rules
AT&T 'exploring the possibility' of LTE Broadcast with eMBMS
Analysts: AT&T not worried about competition in the market, puts focus on network
AT&T, CenturyLink, Frontier see utility with copper but want flexibility in technology transition
AT&T's Stephens: Project VIP could drive new OTT video opportunities, content arrangements