OLYMPIA — Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson and a bipartisan group of 27 attorneys general are calling on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to join them in urging the telecommunications industry to expand commitments to protect consumers who are struggling financially as a result of COVID-19.
Ferguson and the other attorneys general are urging companies to:
- Use fair and reasonable payment plans
- Reconnect previously disconnected customers
- Expand data caps
- Educate their customers on the COVID-19 related services they are providing and about COVID-19 related scams
“Many Washingtonians are facing unanticipated economic circumstances as a result of this crisis, due to no fault of their own,” Ferguson said. “Any disruption in their internet or telecommunications service has the potential to have a devastating impact on their safety, education and work.”
According to Ferguson, some telecommunications companies pledged in mid-March not to terminate service to residential or small business customers for nonpayment, waive late fees and open Wi-Fi hotspots to anyone who needs them. That pledge expires next month.
“Americans are relying heavily on these systems to receive important health and safety information, including government and public health orders and advisories,” the attorney generals write. “Stay at home orders also require students and educators to use these systems so that schooling can continue on-line. These systems also make it possible for health care providers to provide remote telemedicine services to some patients in order to better preserve the health care system’s capacity to address COVID-19.”
In addition to Washington, the states and territories joining the letter include North Carolina, Tennessee, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, Guam, Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C.