A wireless telecommunications licensee entered into a consent decree to resolve an FCC investigation into the licensee’s operations on unauthorized frequencies. Section 1.903(a) of the FCC’s Rules prohibits the transmission of energy, communications, or signals by radio except in accordance with FCC authorization.
In July 2016, the FCC’s Wireless Telecommunications Bureau discovered that the licensee, which was authorized to operate on the 3650-3700 MHz band was instead operating on frequencies in the 3550-3650 band—a band not yet available for commercial use. The FCC contacted the licensee on July 25, 2016, and ordered it to immediately cease use of the unauthorized frequencies. The parent company of the licensee responded that, following communications with FCC staff, the licensee started to migrate and disconnect customers and stopped transmitting on the unauthorized frequencies within 24 hours. The parent company also explained that when it realized in May 2016 that some customers were receiving service on the unauthorized frequencies, it “took immediate steps to cease operations on the unauthorized frequencies, and had stopped such operations on July 26, 2016.”
During an August 2016 inspection, however, an FCC field agent found that one of the licensee’s transmitters was still operating on unauthorized frequencies. The agent notified the licensee on August 17, 2016, and the licensee immediately ceased operations on the unauthorized frequencies. Following a subsequent Enforcement Bureau inquiry and the licensee’s acknowledgment that it had operated on unauthorized frequencies at nine locations, the licensee and FCC negotiated a consent decree to resolve the investigation.
Under the terms of the consent decree, the licensee will pay a civil penalty of $28,800. It also agreed to implement a three-year compliance plan, pursuant to which the licensee will designate a compliance officer, establish operating procedures to help ensure compliance, develop a compliance manual, and implement a training program for its employees. The consent decree also requires the licensee to file four compliance reports with the FCC over a three-year period.