FCC set to hit AT&T with fine for unauthorised spectrum use

2 Feb 2015

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is set to fine AT&T USD640,000 for operating point-to-point (PTP) microwave sites in unauthorised spectrum bands for the last five years. PTP microwave is typically used to backhaul traffic at cell sites that are not linked through wired backhaul facilities. During its investigation, the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau examined the licensing history of approximately 250 AT&T sites and found AT&T was illegally using spectrum at 26 of those sites and failed to notify the FCC regarding minor modifications of an additional eight stations within the past year. The FCC report notes that AT&T has acknowledged that it operated sites using spectrum bands outside those for which it is licensed.

Many of the sites are believed to have been inherited through acquisitions, including AT&T’s purchase of Centennial Communications, and the purchase of wireless assets from Verizon Communications following required divestitures from its purchase of Alltel. The Centennial deal, which was announced in 2008, included assets covering portions of the mid-west and south-east US, as well as Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. The Alltel asset acquisition in question was completed in mid-2010.