AT&T Says FCC Proposed E-rate Fine Off Base

AT&T says the FCC's proposed fine and allegations over the E-rate program against it are "meritless" and is ready to prove it.

The FCC has proposed fining the telco $106,425 and making it repay $63,760 to the Universal Service Fund for allegedly overcharging two Florida schools for phone service under the FCC's E-rate program.

Companies who take the funds can't charge schools or libraries "more than the lowest price paid by other similarly situated customers for similar telecommunications services."

“Charging school districts among the highest rates in the state for telephone or broadband internet service is outrageous,” said Enforcement Bureau chief Travis LeBlanc in announcing the Notice of Apparent Liability (NAL). “Schools and libraries across the country heavily rely upon federal and state funds to afford these critical services. We expect that every service provider will offer participating schools and libraries the same low rates that they charge to other similarly situated customers.”

AT&T said the FCC was wrong.

“The FCC has issued a Notice of Apparent Liability alleging that AT&T apparently violated the Lowest Corresponding Price rule in the E-Rate program. The allegations lack merit and we look forward to making that case in detail in response to the NAL," said Joan Marsh, AT&T VP of federal regulatory. "Among other deficiencies, the NAL proceeds from the flawed premise that AT&T should have ignored regulations issued by the State of Florida when selling intrastate E-rate services in Florida.” 

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.