PUCO authorizes AT&T Ohio to end participation in phone discount program
COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) today approved an application by AT&T Ohio to end its participation in the federal Lifeline program. AT&T Ohio will stop providing Lifeline discounts to the majority of its landline customers on June 11, 2019. Lifeline is a federally funded program that provides monthly discounts to eligible consumers of landline, wireless or broadband services.
AT&T Ohio serves 7,301 landline customers enrolled in the Lifeline program, according to the latest federal data.
AT&T Ohio will continue to provide landline telephone service to all of its current customers; however, customers wishing to continue to receive discounts through the Lifeline program will need to find another telephone provider. A list of companies offering Lifeline discounts is available online at www.lifelinesupport.org.
Affected AT&T Ohio customers that cannot find an alternative Lifeline provider are encouraged to notify the PUCO as soon as possible by Aug. 10, 2019. The PUCO will assist customers in finding an alternative Lifeline provider, and if one does not exist, AT&T Ohio will continue to provide a discount for an additional year.
Federal law requires that state regulatory commissions permit telephone companies to end participation in Lifeline when there are alternate providers available to customers. A PUCO staff investigation determined that wireless providers currently offering Lifeline discounts cover 99.85 percent of AT&T Ohio’s affected service territory.
The Commission ordered AT&T Ohio to notify affected customers by letter and bill inserts following today’s Commission order.
Customers enrolled in their service provider’s Lifeline program receive a $9.25 monthly credit. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) establishes the amount of the discount. The FCC has established a timeframe to phase out the discount for voice-only phone services by December 2021.
A copy of today’s Commission finding and order is available on the PUCO website at www.PUCO.ohio.gov. Click on the link to the Docketing Information System (DIS), and enter case number 17-1948-TP-UNC.