Since 2006, taxpayers in Mississippi have been giving AT&T millions of dollars every year as part of the state’s 12-year deal with AT&T for landline and internet service. The only problem is that nobody knows much about the contract (other than it was for 12 years and went to Bellsouth/AT&T) because it is a so-called “secret” document that nobody can view outside the government and AT&T.
As the Clarion-Ledger reminds us, this year the state of Mississippi passed contract and transparency reform which should force AT&T to publicly release this contract. Rivals companies, such as C-Spire, point out that since the state contract expires in late 2017 or early 2018, they need to know what the details are for their own future bid proposals. Cellular South, who currently holds the state contract for wireless phone service, has their state contract available online for anyone to see.
So, what did BellSouth/AT&T recently say to a judge about this secret contract? According to their attorney, the public has no right to this document because releasing it would give competitior companies a “competitive advantage” and that BellSouth/AT&T simply want a “level the playing field.”
Except, the state contract that BellSouth/AT&T has with the state has been changed in secret many times. We just don’t know what the changes are because we can’t see them. We know that the original contract that BellSouth/AT&T had with the state was for 10-years…..then it changed to 12 years….and that is all we know.