Presley: Phone companies must expand or lose funds

By Chris Kieffer/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley said Thursday that cell phone companies could lose some federal funding if they don’t expand rural coverage.
Presley, who represents Mississippi’s Northern District, held a town hall meeting attended by nine people at the Lee County Justice Center. The former Nettleton mayor said it is the 49th town hall meeting he’s held in three years in office.
Mississippi phone companies receive $280 million in federal funding, Presely said, and $100 million of that goes to cell phone companies. That is the most of any state, he said, noting the money is supposed to be used to build towers to expand service.
Yet complaints about poor phone coverage have been among the most common his office has fielded recently, and Presley said that money should be used as leverage.
“We shouldn’t allow them to take federal money to spend where it benefits the shareholders and not where it benefits the public,” he said.
Cell phone companies that accept federal funding are required to provide full refunds and void contracts if new customers report within 14 days that their service is inadequate, Presley said.
He also urged people to report to his office violations of the no-call law and fraudulent charges added to phone bills.

To Contact
To contact Northern District Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley, call (662) 963-1471 or email northern.district@psc.state.ms.us.