Posted by: Joan Marsh on August 26, 2016 at 8:52 am
Today, AT&T filed its response to a July 27 Notice of Apparent Liability (NAL) issued by the FCC for alleged violations of the lowest corresponding price (LCP) requirements of the E-rate program. These rules say that in order to participate in the E-rate program, a carrier must charge a participating school, library or consortium no higher than the lowest price that it charges to any similarly situated non-residential customer for similar services. To be clear, we wholeheartedly support the E-rate goals of providing schools and libraries with affordable broadband and telecommunications services. The Bureau’s arguments, however, that we applied the LCP rule incorrectly are factually wrong, they deviate from the FCC’s own rules and existing precedent, and they continue the Enforcement Bureau’s troubling pattern of “rulemaking through enforcement.”
The facts of the case aptly demonstrate that no actual FCC rules were violated. First, the Bureau alleges that AT&T should have provided two school districts rates based on one-year contracts despite the fact that the schools were buying services on a month-to-month basis. Contract term is a regular and routine distinction in rates, and the Commission has previously expressed the view that length of contract is a valid basis to price services differently among customers. In this case the school districts at issue never asked for annual contracts, never signed annual contracts and did not behave as though they had annual contracts.