AT&T using different subsidiaries and defunct names to get money out of the FCC’s Emergency Broadband Benefit?

UPDATE: April 2, 2021 — In revisiting the FCC website we found that the spreadsheet that listed the participants left out other AT&T companies — and even the name AT&T wasn’t included. Missing were AT&T controlled state utilities that are using names from the 1990’s, including Pacific Bell (California), Nevada Bell, or Ohio and Wisconsin Bell , to even Southwestern Bell, which represented a collection of state public utilities that included Kansas, Oklahoma and Arkansas— All part of AT&T. There was a total of 86 separate listings. — See below for details

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Ever hear of New Cingular Wireless, Cricket or BellSouth? They are all AT&T and they have all filed to get money from the FCC Emergency Broadband Benefit program.

The program’s goals are to get broadband and equipment to households that can’t afford it.

“The Emergency Broadband Benefit will provide a discount of up to $50 per month towards broadband service for eligible households and up to $75 per month for households on Tribal lands. Eligible households can also receive a one-time discount of up to $100 to purchase a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet from participating providers if they contribute $10-$50 toward the purchase price.”

But, the companies who are providing service will get reimbursed, most likely at their inflated retail rates.

“The program is open to all broadband providers, not just those currently offering Lifeline services. Participating providers will receive reimbursement from the program for delivering qualifying broadband services or devices to eligible households. Broadband providers can find more information about how to participate here.”

The FCC put up the list of providers and what is striking is that there are multiple AT&T subsidiaries, some with names that were supposedly retired decades ago.

AT&T had least 61 separate listings, though we may have missed a few. The chart above gives the name of the company, the states being served and whether the service is going to be wired ‘fixed’ broadband or wireless.

Here are some facts about these AT&T companies and defunct names.

  • “October 26, 2004. The combined company had a customer base of 46 million people at the time, making Cingular the largest wireless provider in the United States. AT&T Wireless was then legally renamed — New Cingular Wireless Services”Wikipedia
  • “In late 2005, SBC (the majority partner in Cingular) acquired the original AT&T, and rebranded as “the new AT&T”. Cingular became wholly owned by the new AT&T in December 2006 as a result of the new AT&T’s acquisition of BellSouth.”
  • BellSouth, which were the southern states like Florida and Mississippi, merged with AT&T in 2006.
  • Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin and Ohio Bell — were ‘Ameritech’ and it merged with SBC in 1999, which was renamed AT&T.
  • “In July 2013, AT&T agreed to buy Cricket Wireless’ parent for $1.2 billion. — Wikipedia

Ameritech and Bellsouth were holding companies and controlled a collection of state telecom utilities, like Michigan Bell. Is AT&T using the state utility rights of way? How about — Do these funds go back to the utility?

And my jaw dropped when I saw AT&T dragging in ‘New Cingular Wireless’. Really? The brand ‘Cingular’ was killed off when it became AT&T Wireless — over 15 years ago.

And Comcast?

Why, exactly is Comcast getting reimbursed to offer these services? Where’s any investigation into the made up fees like the Broadcast and Sports fee; Charter is charging over $19.00 extra a month in Brooklyn. Comcast must be doing something similar, as well as all of the AT&T broadband cableTV services in 21 states, like Michigan or Indiana.

Removing the made up fees alone would be at least $25+bucks in savings.

It is time for getting the billions back from these companies who didn’t show up — and created the Digital Divide, not worsen the situation but giving them billions in government subsidies.

And why is AT&T using these defunct entities to apply for government funds without the AT&T name attached?


These are the companies that filed, which are part of AT&T but were not identified as such.

This is a map of the AT&T territories, which covers 21 states and it appears that AT&T is applying using the old names of the companies, especially the utilities.

Map of the Bell Companies

Pacific Bell and Nevada Bell made up “Pacific Telesis” on the left; in the middle was Southwestern Bell and above that was Ameritech, with BellSouth on the bottom right.

Why is AT&T using these various companies and subsidiaries?

New Networks Institute,Executive Director, & Founding Member, IRREGULATORS; Telecom analyst for 38 years, and I have been playing the piano for 63 years.