Parks Filing Second FCC Redlining Complaint Against AT&T

Attorney Daryl Parks says he is filing a second complaint against AT&T at the FCC Monday (Sept. 25) seeking an investigation and hearing of AT&T over what he says is digital redlining.

Redlining is avoiding building out broadband to low-income minority communities in favor of more affluent ones.

Parks filed the initial complaint last month on behalf of three residents of Cleveland. The latest complaint is on behalf of two "middle income" Detroit residents.

They allege, backed by what Parks says was an independent study backing up the claim, that "wealthier and predominantly white areas have gotten premium upgradable high speed broadband access at bullet speed," while the three complainants "receive slow speeds at a rate as low as 1.5 mbps downstream or less, although they pay AT&T for high speed access."

Complainants argue that is unjust and unreasonable discrimination in violation of the Communications Act. They also allege that is part of a pattern of discrimination by AT&T nationwide.

The FCC under new chairman Ajit Pai reconstituted a diversity committee that plans to look into allegations of redlining as well as other issues.

"AT&T’s arrogance and blatant disregard for low-income minority communities do not end with Detroit or Cleveland," says Parks of the new complaint. "We are seeing a very discouraging pattern across the country. There are more cities, states and complainants to come."

“We do not redline," AT&T regulatory and state external affairs executive VP Joan Marsh following the initial complaint's filing. "Our commitment to diversity and inclusion is unparalleled. Our investment decisions are based on the cost of deployment and demand for our services and are of course fully compliant with the requirements of the Communications Act. We will vigorously defend the complaint filed today.”

AT&T has pointed to infrastructure limitations as well, but Parks said Monday that "intentional or not – It’s redlining.

John Eggerton

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.