AT&T/SNET to Pay $10.9 Million to Settle Lifeline Overbilling

AT&T and its former subsidiary, Southern New England Telephone, have agreed to pay $10.9 million for overbilling the FCC's Lifeline program, which subsidizes phone service — and prospectively broadband service — for low income consumers.

That is according to the FCC's Enforcement Bureau.

“American consumers trust that the companies who receive federal funds will use that money appropriately,” said Travis LeBlanc, chief of the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau. “We expect companies to be vigilant in protecting public funds and complying with FCC rules."

The FCC said it discovered in 2013 that AT&T and SNET had not removed ineligible customers from their rolls. That included AT&T giving ineligible consumers an additional month of of lifeline support, for which AT&T then billed the Lifeline program.

"We discovered this issue in the course of an internal review, voluntarily reported it, and reimbursed the Universal Service Fund about a year ago," said AT&T in a statement. "We also have implemented process enhancements so this does not happen again."

AT&T will pay $6.9 million and SNET $4 million. 

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.