AT&T faces $600K FCC fine for violating microwave license rules

AT&T (NYSE: T) is going to have to pay a $640,000 fine to the FCC for violating rules related to operating microwave stations outside of the parameters of the licenses it owns.

Between 2009 and 2012, the FCC said that AT&T apparently operated a number of carrier fixed point-to-point microwave stations in a manner not authorized by the commission.

According to the FCC, AT&T altered 26 of its microwave stations without filing the proper paperwork with the FCC to account for the variances.

During an investigation, the FCC's Enforcement Bureau examined the licensing history of approximately 250 AT&T microwave stations and determined that the telco "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."

In 2013, AT&T had to pay a similar $600,000 fine to settle an investigation of unauthorized operations based on the company's failure to file major and minor modification applications regarding its wireless service network areas.

Service providers like AT&T have used microwave stations for decades in a point-to-point configuration to beam signals across terrain where service providers can't justify the cost of running copper or fiber. Microwave links are used to serve multiple uses: a backbone connection on the telephone network, connecting cellular base stations to the larger network, or relaying television signals.

The FCC voted 3-2 to propose the fine, with Republican commissioners Ajit Pai and Michael O'Rielly dissenting over information they said was missing from the documents about the proposed fine.

An AT&T spokesperson told Reuters that the company did not agree with the violations and the amount of the fine.

For more:
- see the FCC release (.pdf)
- Reuters has this article

Related articles:
AT&T battles legacy losses with U-verse gains, but sets focus on profitable customers
AT&T's U-verse gains help to ease legacy losses in Q3
AT&T plans to shut down 'certain' copper network assets
AT&T: FCC's CAF-II should just support broadband services

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