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Federal government fines 3 wireless carriers $2.8 million for not meeting emergency phone rule

Federal government fines 3 wireless carriers $2.8 million for not meeting emergency phone rule

Federal regulators on Thursday proposed fining three wireless carriers a combined $2.8 million (euro2.06 million) for failing to give enough consumers cell phones equipped with emergency location technology.
The Federal Communications Commission said it plans to fine Sprint Nextel Corp. $1.3 million (euro960,000), Alltel Corp. $1 million (euro730,000) and United States Cellular Corp. $500,000 (euro367,377). But the companies have 30 days to argue why they should not be fined, the FCC said.
The agency said the three companies failed to meet a Dec. 31, 2005 deadline, requiring 95 percent of the wireless carriers' subscribers to have handsets that are "location-capable" _ that is, equipped with a global positioning satellite chip.
Sprint and Alltel representatives said Thursday their companies are now compliant or mostly compliant with FCC rules. A representative for U.S. Cellular could not immediately comment.
FCC Chairman Kevin Martin said in a statement that the FCC's action is "significant and appropriate" and underscores the importance of emergency locater services.
The three companies are the only wireless carriers to be fined for violating this rule, according to the FCC.
Stephanie Walsh, a Sprint Nextel spokeswoman, said the company today has effectively reached compliance. She said a January analysis showed a penetration rate of 94.7 percent.
She cited a software glitch in 2004 that disabled 4.7 million Motorola devices. The company said it attempted to contact customers and upgrade the phones to get rid of the defect, but the take rate was slow.
Alltel spokesman Andrew Moreau said the company has taken "extraordinary measures" to convince customers to change their older phones without the location-capable technology to newer ones.
The FCC said Alltel and US Cellular became compliant after the deadline because they implemented effective policies and programs to educate customers and make them aware of location-capable phones.
As of the 2005 deadline, the agency said more than 15 million of Sprint's 51 million total subscribers did not have location-capable cell phones. It said the company could be subject to additional enforcement action if it does not reach compliance.


Updated : 2021-06-16 15:15 GMT+08:00