AT&T Uses Title II Regulation to Get Out of Millions in Fees

AT&T may have fought the FCC's decision to classify Internet service as a Title II common carrier service, but that isn't stopping the company from using that to its advantage. The cell service and broadband Internet provider argued last week that it feels Great Lakes Comnet and Westphalia Telephone Company of Michigan charged were against the law because of AT&T's common carrier status, and the FCC agreed.

AT&T uses reclassification to get back millions in carrier feesAT&T uses reclassification to get back millions in service fees

AT&T argued GLC and WTC overcharged it by US$12 million, and is also pushing to avoid paying another $4.3 million the other carriers claim it owes. AT&T argued it was charged the far too much for data that passed through their networks.

The FCC cited multiple sections Title II of the Communications Act in its ruling regulating fair rates for fees companies pay each other for transmissions crossing local access and transport (LATA) areas. The FCC stated,

WTC could not properly bill for 83 miles of transport because the traffic crossed LATA boundaries, and WTC's tariff provides that its access services must be provided within a single LATA.

This isn't the first time AT&T has used the reclassification to its advantage. The company says because broadband Internet is now a common carrier service the FTC can't sue over data throttling practices. The agency filed a lawsuit against AT&T saying it has acted deceptively towards customers with unlimited wireless data plans by throttling download speeds if they exceed certain monthly thresholds.

The FTC said it won't launch future suits against AT&T for the practice, but violations that occurred before the reclassification still fall under its jurisdiction.

AT&T has also said it plans to fight the FCC reclassification and will argue that the agency doesn't have the authority to lump Internet service providers under the common carrier umbrella. The FCC disagrees and said the change was necessary to protect Net Neutrality by preventing carriers from charging competitors extra fees to let their data pass through to end users.

Even though AT&T didn't want the reclassification to happen, it's taking advantage of the change. In this case, it's going to get back several million dollars, and will ba able to avoid paying as much in the future to other carriers, too.