FCC voids AT&T Wireless’ $2 million fine but gets the money anyway; carrier commits to deployment schedule
Maybe it’s a subtle difference, but apparently it’s worth something when a company issued a fine by the FCC makes a voluntary contribution to the U.S. Treasury in an amount equivalent to the fine, and the fine is canceled.
That appears to be the net effect of a consent decree involving the FCC and AT&T Wireless Services that resolves a $2 million Notice of Apparent Liability that the FCC issued to the wireless carrier in May in a case involving enhanced 9-1-1 Phase II rules. E9-1-1 Phase II extends the capability to determine the location of a caller using a wireless telephone to summon emergency aid when dialing 9-1-1.
The FCC has adopted an Order approving a consent decree resolving possible violations of the E9-1-1 Phase II rules by AT&T Wireless Services. As part of the consent decree, AT&T Wireless has committed to a timeline for deployment of its network-based location technology within its Global System for Mobile Communications/General Packet Radio Service network (GSM network).
Under the decree, AT&T Wireless will deploy on its GSM network a Phase II-compliant technology at a minimum of:
1,000 cell sites by Jan. 31, 2003.
2,000 cell sites by March 31, 2003.
4,000 cell sites by June 30, 2003.
6,000 cell sites by Dec. 31, 2003.
8,000 cell sites by June 30, 2004.
For public safety answering points that filed valid requests for Phase II service on or before Sept. 30, 2002, AT&T Wireless will provide Phase II service to 100 percent of those PSAPs’ coverage areas or populations by Nov. 30, 2003.
For PSAPs that filed valid requests for Phase II service after Sept. 30, 2002, but on or before April 30, 2003, AT&T Wireless will provide Phase II service to 50 percent of those PSAPs’ coverage areas and population by Nov. 30, 2003, and to 100 percent of those PSAPs’ coverage areas and population by June 30, 2004.
In addition, AT&T Wireless has agreed to make a voluntary contribution to the U.S. Treasury in the amount of $2 million.
The company agreed to submit quarterly reports to the FCC on its progress and compliance with the terms and conditions of the consent decree and the E9-1-1 Phase II rules. Further, should it fail to meet the deployment benchmarks set forth in the consent decree, AT&T Wireless would have to pay the U.S. Treasury $450,000 for the first missed benchmark, $900,000 for the second missed benchmark, and $1.8 million for any subsequently missed benchmarks.
The FCC said that On Oct. 2, 2001, it granted AT&T Wireless a temporary, conditional waiver of the E9-1-1 Phase II rules for its GSM network. The agency granted a waiver only of the Phase II location accuracy requirements, not the requirements for deployment of location-capable handsets and provision of Phase II service to PSAPs.
After receiving reports that AT&T Wireless was not in compliance with the handset deployment requirements, the Enforcement Bureau commenced an investigation. Based on this investigation, the FCC issued a Notice of Apparent Liability on May 20 in the amount of $2 million.
The notice cited AT&T Wireless for apparent violations of the E9-1-1 Phase II rules (Section 20.18 of the FCC’s rules) and for failing to notify the commission within 30 days that information in its E9-1-1 waiver request was no longer substantially accurate and complete (Section 1.65 of the FCC rules).
The FCC said that the consent decree resolves the apparent violations addressed in the notice, as well as other issues related to AT&T Wireless’s deployment of E9-1-1 technology in its GSM network.