Verizon, Straight Path Pay Record $614 Million FCC Fine

The Federal Communications Commission Feb. 28 announced that Straight Path Communications and Verizon Communications paid a $614 million civil penalty in connection with a January 2017 settlement regarding wireless spectrum.

The fine is the largest civil penalty ever paid to the U.S. Treasury to resolve a FCC investigation. The payment – and relinquishment of 20% of spectrum licenses – is on top of $15 million Straight Path previously paid to the U.S. Treasury.

The agreement was made prior to closure of Straight Path’s $3.1 billion sale and transfer of licenses to Verizon.

The settlement resolved an investigation into allegations Straight Path failed to properly use (or was sitting on) the spectrum it was awarded by the federal government – violating the government’s buildout and discontinuance rules in connection with about 1,000 licenses in certain millimeter wave spectrum bands.

High-frequency bands, or 5G, represent the next-generation of wireless technology.

Verizon and Straight Path entered into a merger agreement May 11, 2017 to transfer licenses, and on Jan. 18, 2018, the FCC’s wireless telecommunications bureau approved the transfer.