FCC Preempts Enforcement of Sandwich Isles' Exclusive Telecom License
Memorandum opinion and order (Excerpts)
Adopted: June 30, 2017 Released: July 3, 2017
Congress has directed that if a State or local legal requirement effectively prohibits competitors from providing telecommunication service, we must override that requirement. Today, we carry out that mandate to remove barriers to entry and ensure the benefits of competition by preempting an exclusive license that effectively bars telecommunications competition on the Hawaiian home lands. Specifically, in this Memorandum Opinion and Order, we find that an exclusive license to “build, construct, repair, maintain, and operate” a network to provide telecommunications services that was granted by the State of Hawaii, Department of Hawaiian Home Lands (DHHL or Department) to Waimana Enterprises, Inc. (Waimana) and then assigned to its subsidiary, Sandwich Isles Communications, Inc. (Sandwich Isles) (hereinafter Exclusive License), violates Section 253(a) of the Communications Act, as amended….
Section 253(a) provides that: No State or local statute or regulation, or other State or local legal requirement, may prohibit or have the effect of prohibiting the ability of any entity to provide any interstate or intrastate telecommunications service…..
In December 2016, following an investigation by the Universal Service Administrative Company, the Commission concluded that Sandwich Isles improperly received payments of more than $27 million in universal service high-cost support through repeated violations of the Commission’s rules. In light of the Commission’s findings, the Commission directed the Wireline Competition Bureau (Bureau) to seek comment on whether the Commission should terminate a previously granted study area boundary waiver providing Sandwich Isles the status of an incumbent local exchange carrier for purposes of receiving high-cost support, and thereby render Sandwich Isles ineligible to receive such support….
The Commission also proposed a forfeiture of more than $49 million on Sandwich Isles, Waimana, and its controlling owner, Albert Hee, for apparent violations of the Commission’s rules by, among other things, submitting and falsely certifying inaccurate data contained in cost studies from 2002 to 2013 that were used to calculate high-cost support….
Accordingly, IT IS ORDERED, pursuant to Section 253 of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C. § 253, that the enforcement of the exclusivity provision in the Exclusive License IS PREEMPTED.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that this Order and the obligations set forth herein ARE EFFECTIVE upon release of this Order….
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