| State of New Jersey
Department Of The Public Advocate
240 West State St.
P.O. Box 851
Trenton, NJ 08625-0851
Phone: (609) 826-5090 Fax: (609) 984-4747
|JON S. CORZINE
For Immediate Release:
August 24, 2007
|RONALD K. CHEN
For Further Information
Public Advocate Opposes AT&T's Effort to Stop Reporting Critical Consumer Data
Data used to examine service quality and market competition
Newark, N.J. — New Jersey Public Advocate Ronald K. Chen today announced the filing of comments with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) opposing AT&T’s petition to be exempt from certain data reporting requirements that provide crucial information needed by regulatory agencies and consumer advocates to help protect ratepayers on issues such as service quality and market competition.
““Whether it is Wall Street or the telecommunications industry, data is critical to monitor both regulated and deregulated markets,” said Chen. “As the deregulation of the telecommunications industry marches on, the federal government should be requiring more data to ensure that consumers are protected not less. If AT&T’s request is granted, other telecommunications providers could follow suit and consumers will be left in the dark.”
The comments were filed on Aug. 20, 2007, by the Public Advocate’s Division of Rate Counsel in the matter of AT&T’s petition for exemption from the FCC’s Automated Reporting Management Information System (ARMIS). Chen said AT&T’s request fails to meet the FCC’s well-established criteria for forbearance, and does not meet the burden of proof that such an exemption is in the public’s best interest. Chen said an exemption would have far reaching consequences for New Jersey consumers as well as consumers throughout the United States.
Chen said although New Jersey ratepayers do not reside or work in AT&T’s “home region,” the FCC’s automated data collection system helps Rate Counsel in many ways. For example, Rate Counsel has compared AT&T’s and Verizon’s service quality performance to develop recommendations for improving mass market consumers’ service quality in New Jersey. Chen said Rate Counsel’s comments made several additional points, including the following:
- The petition, if granted, would set an ill-advised precedent, paving the way for a “me-too” petition by Verizon, potentially jeopardizing consumers’ and regulators’ access to public information.
- AT&T contends that the ARMIS reports are “burdensome and anachronistic,” however, AT&T has failed to demonstrate the purported burden of how submitting the reports outweigh the significant benefit to regulators and consumers of having standardized public information.
The FCC is due to make a determination in the matter at a future meeting.
The Division of Rate Counsel is a division within the Department of the Public Advocate and represents the interests of consumers of electric, natural gas, water/sewer and telecommunications and cable TV service. Additional information on this and other utility matters can be found at the Division’s website at http://www.state.nj.us/rpa/. The Department of the Public Advocate website is http://www.njpublicadvocate.gov.