Straight Path hit with $100m FCC fine and set to surrender 5G licences

13 January 2017 | Jason McGee-Abe


Straight Path Communications has been hit with a $100 million Federal Communications Commission (FCC) fine for failing to deploy wireless services and is set to surrender 20% of its 5G licences.

FCC HQ and logoStraight Path will pay the US Treasury a $100 million civil penalty, surrender to the Commission 196 (around 20%) of its spectrum licences in the 39GHz spectrum band, sell the remainder of its licence portfolio, and remit 20% of the proceeds of that sale to the Treasury as an additional civil penalty.

The Enforcement Bureau investigated allegations that Straight Path violated the FCC’s build-out and discontinuance rules in connection with approximately 1,000 licences in the 39GHz and local multi-point distribution service GHz spectrum bands. The FCC has identified these high frequency bands as “extremely valuable for use in the next generation evolution of wireless technology or 5G.”

“Squatting on spectrum licenses without any meaningful effort to put them to good use in a timely manner is fundamentally inconsistent with the public good,” said Travis LeBlanc, chief of the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau.

“Wireless spectrum is a scarce public resource. We expect every person or company that receives a spectrum licence to put it to productive use.”

Yesterday’s FCC settlement said: “Straight Path admits that an internal investigation determined that the equipment deployed in connection with the build-out of its 39 GHz spectrum band licenses was put in place only for a short period of time and that a significant amount of the installed equipment was no longer present at the original locations at the time of the investigation. In short, the investigation found that Straight Path had not actually deployed equipment with any permanency.”

For the $100 million civil penalty, Straight Path will pay $15 million upfront with $85 million suspended unless Straight Path sells all its remaining licences or surrenders them to the FCC within 12 months.

The news comes after the FCC slammed AT&T and Verizon in new zero-rating guidelines.