HARTFORD, Conn. (Legal Newsline) - Connecticut utility regulators have put one of the state's largest telecommunications companies on notice that the safety of its citizens cannot be ignored, state Attorney General George Jepsen said in a statement Wednesday.
Jepsen praised a decision by the state Department of Public Utility Control, which imposed a $745,000 civil fine on AT&T for failing to meet a service quality standard.
The standard requires the company to make repairs to at least 90 percent of out-of-service problems reported within a 24-hour period.
"The out-of-service repair standard is very important, as it directly relates to public safety," Jepsen said in a statement.
"Many Connecticut citizens rely upon working telephone service as their lifeline to emergency services and their only connection to the outside world."
The DPUC had proposed a $1.2 million penalty against the company when it issued the notice of violation in May 2010 -- an amount equal to $10,000 a month for every month in violation.
After hearings, the regulators reduced the proposed penalty to $745,000 in their draft and in Wednesday's final decision because of payments the company made in the form of refunds and offsets in customer rates.
Jepsen had argued that the $1.2 million penalty was warranted because the company had failed to meet the standard every year since it was adopted in 2001. The company also failed to file a corrective plan as required by the regulation, the Attorney General's Office said.
"While I believe the full $1.2 million penalty was warranted, the $745,000 fine sends a clear message to AT&T that it needs to improve its response to out-of-service customers." Jepsen said. "The company's responses in the future will be closely monitored."
Former Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, now a member of the U.S. Senate, was critical of AT&T and its repair record.
From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.