Two Companies Settle with FCC Over CBRS Auction Communication Violations
Wednesday, August 11, 2021 | Comments

The FCC reached settlements with two companies accused of engaging in prohibited communications related to recent auction of the Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS).

The FCC entered into a consent decree with Nikola Engineering, which does business as Nikola Broadband, to conclude the FCC’s investigation into whether it violated the FCC’s rules. As part of the decree, Nikola admitted that it violated the FCC’s rules and agreed to implement a compliance plan and pay a $30,000 civil penalty.

Meanwhile, the FCC also entered into a consent decree with Router12 Networks to conclude a similar investigation. As part of that decree, Router12 also admitted that it had violated the commission’s rules related to prohibited communications and agreed to implement a compliance plan and pay a $50,000 civil penalty.

Under FCC rules, applicants for a commission auction may not convey certain information during a “quiet period” that commences on the deadline for filing a short-form application and ends on the deadline for winning bidders to submit their down payments.

For the CBRS auction, the quiet period began on May 7, 2020, and bidding in the auction began on July 23, 2020, and ended on August 25, 2020. The deadline for winning bidders to submit down payments was September 17.

The FCC alleged that in June 2020, Router12’s CEO posted a statement on a Facebook page indicating that the company did not intend to place bids in the auction. That communication was then reported to the commission by another auction participant but was not reported to the commission by Router12, violating the commission’s rules. After corresponding with the FCC over the issue, the company asked to enter settlement negotiations with the commission.

For Nikola, the FCC alleged that the company’s president sent an email with the subject line “CBRS fiasco” to an email group list of the Wireless Internet Service Providers Association (WISPA). As with Router12, the communication was seen by the FCC but was not reported by Nikola. After receiving a notice from the FCC, Nikola entered into settlement negotiations with the FCC.

Find the full consent decree for Router 12 here, and the consent decree for Nikola here.

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