Connecticut Attorney General's Office

Press Release

Attorney General Says DPUC Ruling Could Eviscerate Consumer Protections Against Poor Phone Service

May 12, 2010

            Attorney General Richard Blumenthal criticized a Department of Public Utility Control (DPUC) decision today that failed to require that quality of service standards be strengthened for phone companies such as AT&T.

            The decision concludes that existing standards should be updated to reflect the current telecommunications market, but fails to assure that those standards will be strengthened, not weakened, to better protect public safety.

            The DPUC’s existing service quality standards currently requires AT&T to fix 90 percent of out-of-service phones within 24 hours, which the company has failed to meet, but the DPUC may now weaken that standard in a new proceeding.

            Blumenthal said his office will vehemently fight for stronger standards, not leniency, when the DPUC begins a proceeding to consider revising the standards for phone companies. Blumenthal will also press for meaningful financial penalties for companies that fail to meet those standards.

            “Landline phone companies must be held to stronger -- not slacker -- service standards for the sake of public safety,” Blumenthal said. “When phone companies fail to promptly repair or respond to out-of-service reports, consumers are left without critical lifelines -- cutting them off from 9-1-1 access. Landlines are a necessity, not luxury, for many consumers in need of emergency access, particularly senior citizens, the physically disabled and those that simply do not have access to or cannot afford other voice services.

            “Sound phone service is also the cornerstone of many Connecticut businesses that rely on working phone systems to connect with their own consumers.

“We are simply seeking basic, not burdensome, standards to ensure that phone companies reasonably respond when phone service is broken. I will fight any effort to eviscerate such consumer protections that jeopardize public safety and service quality.”