FCC Consent Decree for Violations of Antenna Structure Registration, Lighting, and Environmental Review Rules

The FCC has entered into a Consent Decree requiring a wireless carrier to pay $620,500 and implement a detailed three-year compliance plan for violations of the FCC’s antenna structure registration, lighting, and environmental and historic preservation rules for communications towers.

After General Communications Inc. (GCI) and Alaska Communications Systems (ACS) merged their FCC spectrum licenses and wireless antenna structures, GCI conducted an internal inventory of the acquired antenna structures. GCI found that a significant number of communications towers located near airports or otherwise requiring registration had not been registered with the FCC’s ASR system, that some of the antenna structures were not properly lit, and that the towers had not completed all necessary environmental and historic preservation review prior to construction.

In order to resolve the matter, GCI agreed to a Consent Decree with the FCC that contains the following provisions:

  • Civil Penalty: GCI will pay a civil penalty of $620,500.
  • Admission of Liability: GCI admitted for purposes of the Consent Decree and for FCC civil enforcement purposes that its actions violated the FCC’s antenna structure registration and lighting rules.
  • Compliance Plan and Tower Inventory: GCI agreed to develop and implement a Compliance Plan to ensure future compliance with the FCC’s rules.
  1. GCI must complete FAA review and FCC registration and, where applicable, lighting of all existing structures that it owns or controls that are required to be registered with the FCC.

  2. For any antenna structures that are owned or controlled by a third party on which GCI has collocated an antenna, GCI must have either (1) verified whether an ASR was obtained by the third-party tower owner or that the tower did not require registration; (2) submitted the antenna structure to the FAA for review or verified that the tower owner has done so; or (3) have reported the tower owner to the FCC if the tower owner fails to cooperate with GCI.

  3. For each antenna structure constructed after March 16, 2001, GCI must either confirm that the antenna structure completed environmental and historic preservation review prior to construction or complete the review that should have been completed prior to construction.

  4. GCI must designate a senior corporate manager to serve as a Compliance Officer responsible for developing, implementing, and administering the Compliance Plan.

  5. GCI agreed to develop a Compliance Manual and conduct annual training to explain the FCC’s rules and set forth operating procedures for all employees, contractors, or agents of GCI to ensure compliance with the FCC’s antenna structure registration, lighting, and environmental processing rules.

  6. GCI agreed to perform due diligence prior to any future acquisitions to determine whether any noncompliance facilities are involved in the transaction.

  • Reporting Noncompliance: GCI must report any future noncompliance with the FCC’s antenna structure registration, lighting, and environmental rules or the terms and conditions of the Consent Decree within 15 calendar days after discovery of such noncompliance.
  • Compliance Reports: GCI must file multiple compliance reports with the FCC at various intervals for a period of up to three years after GCI has brought its antenna structures into compliance.

The Consent Decree will remain in effect until three years after April 30, 2016 or the date when GCI notifies the FCC that all antenna structures involved in this matter are compliant, whichever is earlier.