This story has been updated to include AT&T’s reponse to a request for comment.
The FCC last week released a notice that it is fining AT&T $640,000 for allegedly operating wireless stations thoughtout the United States without authorization.
According to a press release, the FCC contends that AT&T operated “numerous common carrier fixed point-to-point microwave stations at variance from the stations’ authorization periods as long as five years.
Travis Leblanc, chief of the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau, said AT&T’s failure to ensure authorization for its operations “greatly increases the risk of harmful interference.”
The Enforcement Bureau said it examined the licensing history of approximately 250 AT&T stations and determined that AT&T engaged in unauthorized operations at 26 of its stations and failed to notify the Commission regarding minor modifications of an additional eight stations within the past year. The Commission’s anticipated fine accounts for the overall scope of the apparent violations, both in terms of the number and duration of the violations.
This isn’t the first time AT&T has fallen out of line with the FCC on this matter. In 2013, AT&T entered into a $600,000 Consent Decree with the Enforcement Bureau to settle an investigation of unauthorized operations based on the company’s failure to file major and minor modification applications regarding its cellular service areas.
An AT&T spokesperson said the legal action stems from a review that AT&T voluntarily conducted of 691 microwave licenses acquired from other entities between 2009 through 2012 undertaken to determine if any FCC records needed to be updated.
“The vast majority of the licenses reviewed required no updates. The results of the review were voluntarily reported to the FCC and filings were made in ULS to modify and update Commission records as appropriate,” the spokesperson said. “The majority of the updates filed were considered ‘minor’ modifications under the Commission rules, updates that were as simple as correcting the longitude or latitude of a site or changing contact information. We strongly disagree that this conduct merits a proposed forfeiture of over $600,000, particularly when that amount is based largely on bureau penalty multipliers for conduct deemed willful, repeated and egregious.”
Filed Under: Industry regulations