The following is a media release from the Massachusetts Attorney General’s office submitted to SOURCE media.
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.
“As families across Massachusetts continue to stay safe in their homes, it’s important that they are able to maintain everyday essentials like working phone lines and internet access,” AG Healey said. “We are asking the FCC to join us in making sure our telecom companies continue to do everything they can to give consumers the resources they need during this difficult time.”
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.
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