In 2003 AT&T formally asked the FCC to review their E-rate on-line invoicing process and confirm that they are complying with FCC rules. In March 2007, the FCC clarified that AT&T's on-line reimbursement process complies with FCC regulations. The FCC has made clear that applicants can choose the billing method they prefer. ; Applicants can either request discounted invoices from their service providers or pay the service provider 100% up front and get reimbursed from the SLD through the BEAR process.
The FCC found that "…under AT&T's billing process, the applicant is not required to pay more than the non-discounted portion of the requested services to USAC from its own funds because AT&T covers the amount of the discounted portion pending reimbursement from USAC. Thus, the net effect is that the only cash outlay from the applicant's own funds is the amount necessary to pay the non-discounted portion of the services, as required by section 54.523 of the Commission's rules. Further, given the complexity of AT&T's billing systems, we find that this process satisfies the purpose of section 54.514(a), because applicants that cannot pay the service provider's bill upon receipt and must await reimbursement from USAC have an alternative method by which to pay the non-discounted portion…"
The State E-rate Coordinators Alliance (SECA) which represents various state departments of educations disagrees with the above conclusion and asked the FCC to reconsider their decision. This week AT&T responded that SECA has not put forth any new information and again, is asking the FCC to reaffirm their earlier decision that their E-rate billing process adheres to program rules.
Funds For Learning will continue to monitor this and other FCC related news and provide updates as they become available
View the FCC AT&T Billing Order
View AT&T’s Response