RealTime IT News

SBC Fine Signals Likely Court Battle

The Federal Communications Commission slapped a $100,000 fine on SBC Communications for intentionally not providing a sworn statement to accompany a recent filing, the agency reported Monday afternoon.

The fine comes five months after the federal organization warned SBC it would fine the carrier if it did not provide sworn verification "of the truth and accuracy of its answers," the statement said.

At the heart of the issue is the incumbent local exchange carrier's (ILEC's) failure to swear by information it says proves it provides unbiased provisioning and support for competitor's using its digital subscriber line (DSL) network.

SBC officials could not be reached for comment at press time.

Judging by its tone, the FCC expects a court battle with SBC in the near future, given the actions of the Baby Bell. SBC is legally obligated to provide true and accurate proof it is opening its network to the competitive LECs (CLECs) as part of the conditions imposed by the Telecom Act of 1996.

"A licensee cannot ignore a Commission order simply because it believes such order to be unlawful," its statement read.

The FCC contends that Bells officials intentionally omitted the information, stating the fine was "excessive."

The FCC has fined SBC more than $350,000 in recent months for failing to adhere to guidelines established by the Telecom Act of 1996, more specifically the conditions imposed by the acquisition of Ameritech last year.

All told, the FCC has proposed $8.5 million in fines against the carrier, the latest a $6 million fine for failing to institute unbundled network element (UNE) rates for competitors.