Help our policymakers understand why small cells deliver big results

It gets harder every day to find a part of our lives that isn't affected by connectivity — especially now that wireless mobile broadband allows people and devices to stay connected everywhere.

We bank and shop on tablets. We arrange an Uber or Lyft ride with our smart phones. We track our New Year's fitness resolutions on Fitbits. When we use wireless navigation to find the most out-of-the way farmers market or nursery, we are likely to see the farmer use a Square and a smart phone when we pay for our fresh produce or daffodil bulbs.

Our AT&T colleagues see this growing use of wireless mobile connectivity and recognize what it means for our networks — our already robust networks must be fortified to handle exponentially larger amounts of data. But for most Tennesseans, their growing reliance on mobile apps may have happened without much notice — they likely focus on that successful trip to the farmer's market without ever considering the wireless network infrastructure that made so much of that trip possible.

That's why we need your help.

The Tennessee legislature is considering SB2504/HB2279, bills that will make it easier to improve our network by streamlining the process to add "small cells" — an innovation that improves speed, capacity and quality on our wireless network and prepares us for the next generation 5G technology. We need your help to ensure that legislators understand the big results that can come from small cells.

What’s the issue?

Over the last 10 years, data on AT&T’s mobile network has increased about 250,000%. And, as streaming video online increases, and new apps and services are introduced, this growth in data use will only continue rising. While we know how to address this demand and fortify our networks, we've experienced significant delays as we navigate cumbersome existing local government processes, like permitting. We are delayed as local governments apply old models for overseeing this new type of infrastructure.

So, what's the solution?

To speed the deployment of small cells across our state, Tennessee needs a streamlined and consistent process enabling local governments to ensure safe and orderly deployment of this new infrastructure without delays.

States across the country have already acted, or are enacting new laws addressing small cells. Those states are now better positioned for increased investment and faster deployment. Tennessee can't afford to fall behind these states.

What can I do?

As an AT&T employee, and a constituent, you can have a strong impact on how your elected representatives view SB2504/HB2279. In the coming weeks, you may receive a note from me asking for your help to take action and let your voice be heard.

Until then, I hope you'll take every opportunity to learn more about this important innovation and be ready to help your friends and neighbors better understand the need for small cells. You can visit to stay up to date on this issue.

In a way, our biggest challenge explaining the urgent need for small cells results from one of your greatest strengths — everything you do at AT&T helps our customers to focus on their lives, their connections, and their businesses and leave the technology to you. We want them to have that seamless experience, to be confident the network will be there wherever they go and whatever they need, without their ever having to think about it.

I am constantly amazed by what our AT&T colleagues accomplish. You make the miracles of astonishing technology seem like an everyday, ordinary occurrence to our customers. As I watch you all do that, it makes me confident that you'll be able to help our policy makers understand this issue — and you'll probably make that big job seem small.

Of course, we all know that small things often mean big results.


Joelle Phillips

President — AT&T Tennessee

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Joelle Phillips has served as the president of AT&T Tennessee since 2013. She brings over a decade of experience in the telecommunications industry and over two decades of experience in the legal profession to her current position.

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