Monday, January 11, 2021

FTC Plans to Impose Over $47 Million in Fines on Educational Broadband Providers

Early this afternoon the Federal Trade Commission announced its plans to levy fines in excess of forty-seven million dollars on a number of educational broadband providers. The FTC alleges that those providers have violated the agency’s mandate that use of the 2.5 GHz band be reserved solely for educational organizations. Instead of only providing broadband service to educational entities, providers North American Catholic Educational Programming Foundation and Voqal USA stand accused of also providing service to private entities for added profit. Interestingly, the decision within the FTC to impose the fines is somewhat divided along party lines: Republican commissioners have spearheaded the fine levy on the grounds that such action holds providers accountable to the interests of the public in providing accessible broadband to educational entities, whereas Democratic members dissented from the decision on the grounds that it represents an unlawful attack on entities which are providing a vital service during a crisis when that service is needed more than ever. Both of the providers being fined object on the grounds that the FTC repealed its educational use mandate: whether they will be successful in arguing their case remains to be seen, as the fines are currently only in the proposal stage.

David Brennen, University of Kentucky College of Law

To read a more in-depth analysis of this development, see Law360’s article on the subject at

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