FCC Again Imposes Fines Against SBC

Earlier this week, the Federal Communications Commission fined one of the
largest telephone companies in the U.S. for, among other things, its
continued violation of federal merger guidelines.

In the past several months, regulators have fined SBC Communications $354,000 for failing to meet the guidelines imposed by its merger
with former Baby Bell Ameritech; namely, responding and publicizing the
availability of its colocation facilities and line-sharing requirements.

Monday’s $84,000 fine stems from the carrier’s inability to post
availability information pertaining to its collocation facilities. The
carrier has 10 days to post on its Web site the “no vacancy” of its
collocation space. Collocation facilities are used by competitive local
exchange carriers (CLECs) to install networking equipment of its own to
service customers.

When SBC and Ameritech joined forces in 1999, the FCC mandated a certain
level of responsiveness to meeting competitor demands for facilities and
services. Since that time, regulators have had problems getting SBC to
comply with measures.

Throughout 2001 and into 2002, the FCC has proposed and imposed fines on
the carrier to the tune of millions of dollars. Regulators say despite
SBC’s claims of “near-perfect” compliance to conditions, nearly 20 percent
of its reported data (which FCC staffers review monthly) is flawed.

The report found SBC had “willfully, substantially and repeatedly failed to
comply with merger conditions.”

Since October of 2001, the FCC has proposed more than $8.5 million in fines
against SBC, though the telephone company has time to respond with a
defense. The latest was a $6 million fine for failing to institute
universal rates for unbundled network elements (UNE).

As part of the merger condition, SBC agreed UNE prices for CLECs in
Ameritech’s coverage area would be “at least” as favorable as the UNE fees
imposed in SBC home state of Texas.

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