Deborah D. McAdams /
Cascade LLC Fined $75,000 for Collusion in 700 MHz Auction
Company told Verizon it had dropped out of bidding
WASHINGTON – Cascade Access has incurred a $75,000 fine from the feds for
“collusive conduct.” The Federal Communications Commission issued a Forfeiture
Order to Cascade, an Escatada, Ore., Internet service provider that
participated in the 2008 auction of 700 MHz spectrum—bands vacated by TV
stations in the digital transition.
The Order said both Verizon Wireless and Cascade applied for a license covering
the same geographic area in Nevada, and that, “during the course of that
auction, a representative of Cascade apparently engaged in a collusive
communication with a representative of Verizon Wireless.”
FCC investigators found that Bob Milliken, and associate of Cascade, sent an
email to William Hickey, executive director of strategic alliances for Verizon
Wireless stating that Cascade had “dropped out of the 700 MHz auction” and was
“ready to talk/meet” with Verizon. The FCC concluded that Cascade engaged in
prohibited communication about its bidding strategy and issued a Notice of
Liability in February of 2009.
Cascade responded that the fine should be cancelled because the communiqué in
question did not relate the “‘substance’ of bids or bidding strategies,” as the
FCC rules indicate. Cascade also said it did not intend to violate FCC bidding
The FCC concluded that Cascade’s communication did violate commission rules
because it revealed to Verizon it was out of the bidding.
“Affirmatively revealing to another auction
participant that you intend to refrain from bidding is no less significant than
disclosing an intention to make a bid of a particular dollar amount or a bid
for a license in a particular market,” the Forfeiture Order said.
It also rejected Cascade’s contention that the violation was unintended.
“While Cascade may not have set out with the specific intention of violating
the anti-collusion rule, there is no doubt that Cascade’s representative
intended to and did contact Verizon Wireless to initiate a conversation about
Cascade’s participation in Auction No. 73 during the period of time when such
communications were strictly proscribed.”
has 10 days from the Jan. 11 release of the Order to pay the fine.
~ Deborah D. McAdams