Groups representing low-income people are calling on state regulators to reject AT&T’s plan to drop out of a federal program that helps over 10,000 of its Ohio customers afford telephone service.
The NAACP, the Ohio Poverty Law Center, and the Alliance for Retired Americans are among those defending the Lifeline program, which offers a credit that covers a quarter of the $36 average monthly cost of a landline telephone. Bianca Edwards is with the Ohio Organizing Collaborative in Cincinnati. “For those that can’t afford phone and internet services, this is the lifeline that keeps them not only connected to their communities and loved ones but also to safety," Edwards said.
AT&T says increased competition has reduced its Lifeline subscribers, and it’s received permission to drop out of the program in 10 other states. If the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio approves its dropout request, customers would have to find another provider who offers the Lifeline program.
(Note: the PUCO is taking public comment till the end of August.)