FCC Proposes $100,000 Fine Against International Carrier for Failing to Obtain Section 214 Authority


On June 4, 2009, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC” or “Commission”) issued a Notice of Apparent Liability (“NAL”) against Teleplus, LLC (“Teleplus”) for willfully and repeatedly failing to obtain an international section 214 authorization before providing international telecommunications service. For this violation, the FCC proposed a $100,000 fine.

The FCC requires any person that provides telecommunications services to or from the United States (i.e.international telecommunications services) to receive an authorization under Section 214 of the Communications Act of 1934 (“Act”).

The FCC began investigating Teleplus after the company delinquently filed an application for international section 214 authorization that was subsequently removed from the FCC‘s streamlined process and referred to the Executive Branch for a national security evaluation, due to Teleplus‘ divulgence of a disclosable foreign ownership interest.

In its NAL, the FCC noted that, not only did Teleplus provide international telecommunications services prior to filing its application for international section 214 authorization, but it also continued to provide international telecommunications services while its application was pending. Teleplus could have sought a Special Temporary Authority from the FCC while its application was pending but failed to do so. Therefore, Teleplus apparently provided international telecommunications services without FCC authority from May 2005 to June 18, 2008. The FCC concluded that Teleplus had willingly violated Section 214 of the Act and Section 63.18 of its rules for a period of over three years.

The FCC proposed a $100,000 forfeiture for Teleplus‘ alleged violation. The FCC noted that its requirements regarding the provision of international telecommunications services are clear, unambiguous and easily accessible–making Teleplus‘ failure to comply particularly egregious. The FCC also noted that any proposed forfeiture must be large enough to have a deterrent effect on other telecommunications services providers and that a proposed forfeiture of $100,000 was consistent with prior precedent for entities failing to receive international section 214 authority before providing international telecommunications services.

In addition, the FCC once again stated that, while the Commission can only impose forfeitures for violations occurring within one year prior to the issuance of the NAL under 47 U.S.C. 503 (b)(6), the FCC will continue to consider conduct outside of this one-year statute of limitations when determining forfeiture amounts. Thus, although the FCC considered the fact that Teleplus had been in violation of the Act and its rules for over three years, its proposed forfeitures are only directed at violations that occurred within the last year. 

Client Advisory

All clients are advised that that they must receive an international section 214 authorization before providing international telecommunications services. This NAL demonstrates the seriousness with which the FCC views this obligation. Any clients providing international telecommunications services who have not yet received the proper authorization should immediately contact Jonathan Marashlian at: jsm@commlawgroup.com or 703-714-1313.

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