- The Federal Communications Commission is accusing AT&T of overcharging two Florida school districts under the rules of the federal E-Rate program.
- According to eSchool News, the FCC has levied a $106,425 fine and demanded AT&T pay back $63,760 that the federal agency says it improperly received by failing to offer the districts the lowest possible price for its services.
- While the E-Rate program requires companies to offer schools and libraries their lowest prices without the need for negotiation, the FCC alleges AT&T actually charged these districts among the highest rates in the state.
AT&T has said it plans to fight the FCC ruling, arguing its actions were in line with state law in Florida. The federal E-Rate programs requires schools and libraries to get the lowest possible prices for services similarly-situated customers receive. AT&T is one of the nation’s largest suppliers of telecommunications services through the E-Rate program. A 2012 ProPublica investigation found the company charged some schools or libraries as much as 325% more than other customers in the same region for essentially the same services.
Outside of Florida, there have been lawsuits on behalf of schools and libraries in Wisconsin, New York, Indiana, and Michigan. At the time of that investigation, and as late as last summer, the FCC had never brought enforcement action against a company for violating the terms of the E-Rate program, which could make the AT&T action important for setting a new precedent.