The FCC on Friday fined U.S. wireless carrier AT&T nearly a half a million dollars as the result of an investigation into the carrier’s operation of fixed wireless stations without proper authorization.
According to the release, AT&T has agreed to pay a settlement of $450,000 after the FCC found the carrier operated “numerous common carrier fixed point-to-point microwave stations” throughout the contiguous United States and Puerto Rico in manners other than those specified on the stations’ licenses.
“We expect every person or company that receives a license from the Commission will operate within the parameters of that authorization,” FCC Enforcement Bureau Chief Travis LeBlanc said. “Any licensee who operates outside those parameters threatens the integrity of communications networks, increases the risk of harmful interference, and breaks the law.”
In its January 2015 Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture, the FCC said the infractions occurred at approximately 240 stations over the span of three and a half to four years starting in 2012.
The FCC said the majority of the violations stemmed from a lack of timely review of the licenses AT&T took on as part of its acquisition of Centennial Communications Corporation. Of 240 licenses in question, 59 licenses required filing for major modification applications and 190 required minor modification applications, the FCC said.
The Commission said stations like the ones in question are “wireless connections used by phone companies to connect directly between towers.” These stations, the FCC said, support long-haul backbone connections or to connect points in the network that cannot otherwise be connected using wireline or fiber optic cable.
In assessing the fine, the FCC said it was “particularly concerned that AT&T’s apparent unauthorized operations continued for an extended period of time” at many of the stations. The final penalty, however, was $190,000 less than the original $640,000 fine suggested by the FCC in its Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture.
As part of the settlement, AT&T agreed to implement a compliance plan to conduct timely reviews of wireless fixed microwave stations acquired in future transactions to ensure license compliance, file periodic progress reports on its compliance efforts and correct any noncompliance discovered during the review process within 60 days of discovery.
Filed Under: Industry regulations