Shock: AT&T totally not OK with FCC saying it ripped off US schools

They didn't get E-rate price because they didn't want an E‑rate plan, apparently

AT&T has issued a rebuttal to the FCC's July complaint that it overcharged schools and libraries in Florida for internet service.

The US telco giant said in a policy blog post that the FCC's allegations it violated of pricing rules for the federal E‑rate service program were "factually wrong."

AT&T had been accused of charging the schools inflated prices for their internet service in violation of E‑rate's "lowest corresponding price" rule, which states that carriers can't charge schools and libraries higher prices than what business and residential customers in the area pay for the same service. The FCC sought a $106,425 fine as well as $63,760 in overcharge refunds to the schools.

According to AT&T, however, the rates the FCC cites in claiming the schools were overcharged were for annual contracts, not the month to month plans the Florida schools were using.

Additionally, AT&T says that because the schools had chosen to use month-to-month subscription plans, they should not be eligible for the prices that other schools and libraries had gotten through participating in the state's "E‑rate consortium" program.

"In the FCC’s own words, participation in consortiums enables eligible schools and libraries to obtain terms and conditions better than they could negotiate alone," AT&T argues.

"But these school districts specifically chose not to purchase through the consortium preferring instead more flexible month to month service contracts."

AT&T goes on to argue that the "lowest corresponding price" rule should also not apply in this case as the plans with the schools were not agreed to under E‑rate's "Form 470" bidding program, and that the case should have been considered a state matter outside of the FCC's jurisdiction.

"The [lowest corresponding price notice of apparent liability] should have never been issued and as our response today demonstrates, there is no legal or factual basis for liability against AT&T," the response concludes. ®


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