Public Service Commissioner Calls Mississippi Gov "Coin-Operated"

Public Service Commissioner Calls Mississippi Gov "Coin-Operated"

Date: 7 Aug 2012 | posted in: MuniNetworks | 0 Facebooktwitterredditmail

We have watched in growing horror as AT&T and other telco lobbyists have gone from state to state gutting telecommunications oversight. In several states, you no longer have an absolute right to a telephone – the companies can refuse to serve you if they so choose.

We tip our hat to Phil Dampier at Stop the Cap, who alerted us to this story. AT&T convinced Mississippi legislators to remove consumer protections for telecommunications.

Northern District Mississippi Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley is unhappy with a new state law that will strip oversight over AT&T. Presley plans to personally file suit in Hinds County Circuit Court against the law, calling it unconstitutional.

“It violates the state constitution,” Presley said of the bill during an interview with the Daily Journal. “There’s no doubt AT&T is the biggest in the state, and this bill will allow them to raise rates without any oversight at all.”

House Bill 825 strips away rate regulation of Mississippi landline service and removes the oversight powers the PSC formerly had to request financial data and statistics dealing with service outages and consumer complaints. The law also permits AT&T to abandon rural Mississippi landline customers at will.

As we’ve seen elsewhere (as in California), AT&T worked with ALEC to push this through – though Rep Beckett (R-Bruce) doesn’t think AT&T will raise its rates or abandon parts of the state. Time will tell – but Beckett won’t be the one to suffer when the inevitable occurs. Thanks to AT&T and ALEC, he already got his.

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Christopher Mitchell

Christopher Mitchell is the Director of the Community Broadband Netwroks Initiative with the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. He runs MuniNetworks.org as part of ILSR's effort to ensure broadband networks are directly accountable to the communities that depend upon them.