The state of Mississippi is asking multinational telecommunications conglomerate AT&T provide records of the work it promised to do to expand broadband access in the state after the Public Service Commission gave the company almost $300 million, officials said.
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Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley has signed an investigative subpoena for records from AT&T related to the company’s claim to have made internet service available to 133,000 locations in the state through the Connect America Fund, a federal program for expanded broadband in rural areas of the U.S.
The subpoena demands production of documents showing the number of actual subscribers to AT&T’s fixed wireless service within the 133,000 locations where the company claims to have provided service. It also requests the number of complaints filed with the company by customers who have taken service and the number of residents who applied for fixed wireless service based on AT&T’s claim that it was available and were later determined not to be in an area covered.
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Prior to issuing the investigative subpoena, Commissioner Presley informally asked AT&T for documentation related to the actual number of locations benefiting from the $280 million project, and AT&T refused, Presley said. Some items in today’s subpoena were part of data requests filed by the Public Utilities Staff that went ignored by AT&T.
“AT&T has pocketed $283,780,632 of public money with a promise to expand internet service, yet they refuse to answer the most basic questions of a regulator surrounding the use of these dollars and the actual success of their plans," Presley said. “It is very clear to me that AT&T’s position is to take as much public money as possible and answer as few questions from regulators as possible.”
A spokesperson for AT&T said Friday night that the company complies with the law and requirements of the Connect America Fund.
“In Mississippi, we are confident that we will exceed the final CAF II goal of providing high-speed access to 133,000 rural Mississippi homes by the end of this year,” spokesman Jim Greer said.