FCC’s Wheeler Recuses Self From AT&T Digital Trial-Runs

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler said he won’t participate as the agency considers AT&T Inc.’s proposal to offer digital-only telephone service in two trial areas.

Wheeler said he’s recusing himself because he’s a former member of the board of Earthlink Holdings Corp., which wants to influence the agency on the proposal. Wheeler spoke at the agency’s monthly meeting in Washington today.

AT&T in February proposed trial runs in Alabama and Florida to help regulators decide whether telephone companies may stop offering traditional wired phone service as customers migrate to wireless and Internet-based communications.

The trials are part of the industry’s attempt to ease into a transition that sparked complaints of balky connections last year in Fire Island, New York, where Verizon Communications Inc. abandoned plans to replace Hurricane Sandy-damaged copper lines with wireless service.

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