Wednesday, April 22, 2020

AG HEALEY CALLS ON TELECOM COMPANIES TO EXTEND PHONE AND BROADBAND CONNECTIONS DURING COVID-19 PANDEMIC

AG HEALEY CALLS ON TELECOM COMPANIES TO EXTEND PHONE AND BROADBAND CONNECTIONS DURING COVID-19 PANDEMIC
Bipartisan Coalition of AGs Asks FCC for Help in Urging Companies to Extend Policy of Not Cancelling Services

              BOSTON – Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey today joined a bipartisan coalition of 27 attorneys general in urging the telecommunications industry to protect consumers who are struggling financially as a result of the COVID-19 public health crisis and asking the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for support.


            In a letter sent to the FCC today, the attorneys general ask the commission to join them in urging the companies to extend a limited policy of not cancelling phone and broadband services. The FCC announced on March 13 that many companies  including all Massachusetts providers  had pledged for 60 days not to terminate service to residential or small business customers for nonpayment, to waive late fees, and to open Wi-Fi hotspots to anyone who needs them.

Today’s letter asks for this pledge to be extended through Aug. 11 and for the companies to additionally agree to reconnect customers who may have been disconnected before the policy took effect, establish fair and reasonable payment plans, expand data caps, and educate customers about COVID-19 related services they are providing and scams related to the pandemic.

AG Healey’s Energy and Telecommunications Division represents consumers in matters involving the price and delivery of natural gas, electricity, and telecommunications services before federal and state regulators. In recognition of the financial hardship families are facing as a result of the COVID-19 public health crisis, the Division is looking for ways to save the state’s gas, electric and telecommunications customers money and has called on the state’s Department of Public Utilities (DPU) to delay an upcoming gas rate increase.

The AG’s Energy and Telecommunications Division also successfully called on the DPU to issue an order preventing utilities from shutting off service during the public health crisis. The Division reached out to municipal light plants across the state and they have agreed not to shut off residential service.

The AG’s Office has taken a number of steps to increase consumer protections during the pandemic, including calling on the state’s Division of Insurance to immediately reduce auto insurance premiums, and filing emergency regulations to prevent harmful debt collection practices and price gouging of essential goods during the public health crisis.


Joining AG Healey in sending today’s letter are the attorneys general of North Carolina, Tennessee, California, Colorado Connecticut, Delaware, Guam, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin, as well as the District of Columbia.

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