The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has announced that Straight Path Communications and Verizon Communications have paid a civil penalty of over USD600 million dollars to the US Treasury in connection with a January 2017 settlement that Straight Path entered into with the watchdog’s Enforcement Bureau – prior to the sale and transfer of its licences to Verizon in May 2017. This payment represents the largest civil penalty ever paid to the US Treasury to resolve an FCC investigation, the regulator notes. The settlement resolved an investigation into allegations that Straight Path failed to use the spectrum it was awarded, and thus violated the FCC’s buildout and discontinuance rules in connection with approximately 1,000 licences in certain millimetre wave (mmWave) spectrum bands. These high frequency bands have been identified by the FCC for future 5G use.
In an unrelated mmWave development, FCC chairman Ajit Pai has revealed that he hopes to hold an auction for 28GHz spectrum this November – as long as Congress is able to pass legislation by 13 May addressing the handling of upfront payments. In his keynote address at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) event in Barcelona Pai said: ‘Until now, this technical issue hasn’t impeded the FCC’s work because we’ve been busy getting spectrum we’ve already allocated ready to be auctioned. But we’re now ready to move forward with a major spectrum auction, and if we don’t get the problem fixed by 13 May our efforts to realise America’s 5G future will be delayed.’