AT&T to pay $450K to FCC to settle questions about the use of fixed wireless stations

AT&T will pay $450,000 to settle an FCC inquiry over charges that it operated fixed wireless stations without authorization or filing required license modification notices.

The carrier “operated numerous common carrier fixed point-to-point microwave stations” across the country in ways that differed from the stations’ licenses for roughly four years, the Commission said. The investigation, which began in 2012, turned up “numerous inconsistencies” between the licensed parameters and facilities AT&T acquired from 2009 through 2012 that used fixed microwave licenses.

The carrier didn’t review the acquired licenses in a timely manner, the Commission said, resulting in the unauthorized operation of stations by subsidiaries New Cingular Wireless PCS and AT&T Mobility Puerto Rico.

“We expect every person or company that receives a license from the Commission will operate within the parameters of that authorization,” said Travis LeBlanc, chief of the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau, in a press release. “Any licensee who operates outside those parameters threatens the integrity of communications networks, increases the risk of harmful interference, and breaks the law.”

The FCC said the stations in question are generally used by phone companies to connect directly between towers. The microwave stations are used to support long-haul backbone connections or to connect points on the network that can’t be connected using wireline or FiOS because of costs or terrain.

AT&T said it discovered “minor discrepancies” between FCC records and the actual operating parameters of the licenses during a review of the licenses. “AT&T voluntarily disclosed these discrepancies to the FCC and made corrective filings.  None of them had any impact on consumers or other carriers,” an AT&T spokesman told FierceWireless via email.    

For more:
- see this FCC order (PDF)

Related articles:
AT&T hit with proposed $100M FCC fine over throttling of customers with unlimited plans
AT&T to pay record $105M settlement related to unauthorized premium SMS billing
Verizon will pay up to $64M to settle lawsuit claiming it over-billed for family calling plan
Report: FCC set to fine Sprint $105M for unauthorized third-party services billing