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FCC Fines 3.65 GHz WISP for Unregistered Sites

Satellite users and operators are concerned about the FCC’s plans to increase use of spectrum just below the 3700-4200 MHz band for wireless broadband could cause interference to C-band downlinks.

In a Forfeiture Order released this week the FCC's Enforcement Bureau made it clear they would not accept unregistered sites in the 3650-3700 MHz band. The Forfeiture Order followed a Notice of Apparent Liability (NAL) for $12,000 issued to Robert Schmidt, dba RSISP, for failure to register radio transmitters in the 3650-3700 MHz band from sites in Juana Diaz and Ponce, Puerto Rico last year. RSISP's license WQMN655 and FCC rules require registration of all fixed or base stations prior to operation.

RSISP attempted to justify the violations based on its erroneous understanding about the status of the registration and its ability to operate temporarily, but the Enforcement Bureau notes in the Order that “such explanations do not serve to justify or mitigate the violations. Although RSISP submitted amendments to register its sites prior to March 15, 2012, a licensee cannot operate in conformity with its amendment applications based on the assumption that the applications will later be granted. Moreover, its erroneous beliefs that it had registered its sites or that it could operate on an unlicensed basis until it transitioned its customers to other systems are irrelevant to whether it willfully operated on an unlicensed basis.”

After reviewing financial documents submitted by RSISP, the Enforcement Bureau agreed that RSISP was unable to pay the $12,000 forfeiture and reduced the amount to $3,000 but noted, “We have previously rejected inability to pay claims in cases of repeated or otherwise egregious violations. Therefore, future violations of this kind may result in significantly higher forfeitures that may not be reduced due to RSISP’s financial circumstances.”

For additional information see Forfeiture Order DA 13-2050 and my article Satellite Users Concerned About C-band Terrestrial Use. Note that the links in that article from 2008 are no longer valid.