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FCC Affirms $25,000 Fine on Mobile Relay Associates

July 13, 2021 by Victoria Turner
(Mobile Relay Associates via Facebook)

The Federal Communications Commission affirmed a $25,000 fine Tuesday against Mobile Relay Associates for overuse of a shared spectrum channel and causing interference to other FCC licensees. 

The first notice of violation against the radio communications company was issued in 2013 by the FCC’s Los Angeles field office and enforcement decisions were contested by the company, said FCC Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel. Nevertheless, the item received unanimous approval by the bench at today’s open meeting.

According to Matthew Gibson, senior field officer at the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau, the $25,000 fine popped up two years after the initial violation notice when Mobile Relay was caught continuing its “heavy” use of this shared channel. The company was operating its licensed WPPF2234 station in Malibu, California, 95% of the time, and doing so without keeping track of its transmissions to ensure it was not causing interference with other licensees – which at the time included a theme park and cemetery. 

This violates the FCC’s rules that require licensees on shared channels to actively monitor transmissions so as to not interfere with other licensees using the same frequencies. The FCC then dismissed Mobile Relay’s motion for reconsideration, but the company filed another motion that put the issue before the commission for a final decision Tuesday. 

The company’s appeal stated that the “[Enforcement] Bureau abused prosecutorial discretion” by not letting Mobile Relay know its transmission mitigation was insufficient nor that occupying 95% of the time on the channel was too much, and treating them differently than similarly situated Part 90 licensees.

But Rosenworcel said the company received ample time to curb their misconduct and the agency “carefully considered each argument.” And the fact that the initial violation notice was issued in 2013, “quite frankly [took] too long,” Rosenworcel said, and traffic on the airways has increased since.

“Which means we face new sources of interference for a resource that is increasingly important to our economic and national security,” she said.

Rosenworcel has instructed the FCC to devise new objectives for resolution timelines, particularly when it comes to enforcing violations of the agency’s due process rules against interference allegations. 

“I believe it will foster fairer and more consistent endorsement, with better results for the public,” she said. 

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