Utility regulators in Mississippi raised concerns about AT&T meeting the Connect America broadband goals and say the carrier may even be misrepresenting its claims of success. A letter addressed to the FCC asked for “a complete compliance audit of AT&T Mississippi regarding their claims of providing service to over 133,000 locations in Mississippi as part of their obligation under the Connect American Fund II.” The letter was drafted by a three-person committee charged with regulating utility services, reports the Daily Journal.
Northern District Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley told the Daily Journal: “It is an undisputed fact that there are inconsistencies and invalid information that has been provided to the various federal agencies by AT&T. Beyond a shadow of a doubt, these types of incidents have occurred, and we know that.” The incidents he refers to involve claims that service exists in areas that do not have broadband coverage.
The letter to the FCC states that, “This pattern of submitting false data” means that AT&T “merits a full compliance audit.” Monies available through the Connect America Funds were awarded specifically for the construction of rural internet service. Private companies bid to receive the funds, which were distributed first in 2012, with the second phase available in 2018. When AT&T did not respond to Presley’s request for more information, he said he was then forced to pursue a subpoena to get the truth.
“The data we report as part of Phase II of the Connect America Fund is already subject to strict audit and compliance measures by the federal government,” said AT&T spokesperson Jim Kimberly. “We will continue to focus on doing work that matters to Mississippians by deploying high-speed infrastructure in communities across the state.”