Through the Connect America Fund (CAF), AT&T was granted over $283 million in order to expand broadband in Mississippi, but is the cellular giant actually using those dollars to do that? Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley isn’t yet convinced.
On Friday, Presley went to Twitter to share a digital copy of the subpoena that was served to AT&T after the company “purposefully ignored and rebuffed questions” looking into how the federal dollars were used.
The following subpoena was served on @ATT this morning. They have purposefully ignored and rebuffed questions long enough. Our authority to ask these questions is clear and our duty to protect USF funds is one I take seriously. You can’t take $283M and rebuff regulators. pic.twitter.com/Q9458rI5Ti
— Brandon Presley (@PresleyPSC) September 11, 2020
“You’ve got people who have filed complaints with us that say that they’re paying for a certain megabit speed of internet service, and when they check it consistently, it’s not performing as it should,” Presley said in a Monday morning interview. “That’s money that’s out there, and we’re just asking them to prove that they did with the money what they said they were going to do with it.”
The CAF was created by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in 2015, and under it, providers are required to supply users, who lack internet, with access to infrastructure capable of providing 10/1 Mbps fixed broadband.
Even though AT&T President of Mississippi Operations Mayo Flynt claims that 133,000 rural homes have been reached via the CAF money, Presley’s office has received an unusual influx in customer complaints, which makes him wonder how many the telecommunications company has received itself.
“I have had over 50 people in 24 hours contact my office to say that they had issues with the service,” he explained. “They said that they had completed it to 133,000 locations in the state. Mr. Flynt testified that before the Senate committee in May…and if that is, in fact, the case, tell us those numbers. Tell us how many people have filed a complaint.”
Due to AT&T’s refusal to supply those numbers to Presley, the longtime commissioner felt that he had no choice but to file a subpoena and try to attain answers.
“I asked [for documentation] over ten days ago and was told by the company, in two separate emails, that they would not provide that. From there, they gave me no choice as to issue a subpoena to get that information, because we have a right to know that.”
Whether Presley is correct in his suspicions or not, we should soon find out.