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Federal Communications Commission
Washington, D.C. 20554
In the Matter of ) File Number: EB-06-LA-345
Compatible Electronics Inc. ) NAL/Acct. No.: 200732900010
Silverado, CA ) FRN: 0009767906
Adopted: February 20, 2008 Released: February 22, 2008
By the Regional Director, Western Region, Enforcement Bureau:
1. In this Forfeiture Order ("Order"), we issue a monetary forfeiture in
the amount of eight thousand dollars ($8,000) to Compatible
Electronics, Inc., ("Compatible"), in Silverado, California, for
willful and repeated violation of Section 301 of the Communications
Act of 1934, as amended ("Act"). On May 23, 2007, the Enforcement
Bureau's Los Angeles Office issued a Notice of Apparent Liability for
Forfeiture ("NAL") in the amount of $10,000 to Compatible after
determining that Compatible apparently willfully and repeatedly
operated a radio transmitter without a license. In this Order, we
consider Compatible's arguments that it did not willfully operate the
transmitter, and that the forfeiture amount should be reduced because
Compatible has a history of compliance with Commission's Rules, has
made good faith disclosures to the Commission, and has taken remedial
measures to ensure future compliance.
2. On December 22, 2006, the Enforcement Bureau's Los Angeles Office
received a request for assistance from the Air Force Rescue
Coordination Center ("AFRCC") regarding interference to the 406 MHz
Search and Rescue Satellite ("SARSAT") System. Investigation by the
Los Angeles Office revealed that the interference was caused by the
intentional activation of an unregistered, emergency locator
transmitter ("ELT") at Compatible's open field testing laboratory near
Mission Viejo, California. After the ELT was turned off, a Los
Angeles agent admonished personnel from Compatible and Compatible's
customer, the manufacturer of the ELT in question, that ELTs tested in
the United States must be operated in accordance with the Commission's
3. On December 26, 2006, a Los Angeles agent contacted, via a three-way
conference call, the manager of Compatible, and a representative from
Compatible's customer, and explained that the Commission's rules had
no provisions for open air operation of an ELT on 406.025 MHz.
4. On March 1, 2007, the Los Angeles Office sent a Letter of Inquiry
("LOI") to Compatible regarding its activation of ELTs in December of
2006 and asking Compatible how it complied with the Commission's Rules
when testing ELTs. In its response to the LOI, Compatible stated that
it "performs tests related to electromagnetic compatibility of
pre-production equipment to assist the electronics industry to meet
the compliance requirements of regulatory agencies in the US and
worldwide. [Compatible is] contracted by local companies to perform
testing on their products to determine compliance with FCC, FAA . . .
regulations." Compatible stated that it does not have a license to
operate an ELT test station nor does it have an experimental radio
station license for 406 MHz. Compatible also stated that the tests
were performed at its facility and were being conducted for its
customer. Compatible further stated that while its customer was
operating the ELT, Compatible was making received signal measurements
of the ELT on 121.5 MHz and 243 MHz. Compatible acknowledged, however,
that the ELT was operating on 121.5, 243 and 406 MHz and that the
December 22, 2006, tests had not been coordinated with the FAA
Regional Spectrum Management Office. Compatible also stated that
additional testing on 406 MHz took place, with permission from its
customer, on December 29, 2006, and that testing on 121.5 and 243 MHz
was performed on December 26 and 29, 2006, and January 5, 10, 19 and
22, 2007. Finally, Compatible stated that it was testing on 121.5 MHz
and 243 MHz at an open area test site as required by Section 2.1511(a)
of the Rules.
5. On May 23, 2007, the Los Angeles Office issued a NAL in the amount of
$10,000 to Compatible. In the NAL, the Los Angeles Office found that
Compatible apparently willfully and repeatedly violated Section 301
of the Act by operating a radio transmitter without a license.
Compatible filed a response to the NAL on June 22, 2007 ("Response").
In this Response, Compatible argues that the NAL should be cancelled
because Compatible did not operate the transmitter and did not
willfully violate Section 301 of the Act. Compatible also argues that
if the NAL is not cancelled, it should be reduced because Compatible
has a history of compliance with the Commission's Rules; that it made
good faith and voluntary disclosures to the Commission; that it did
not act alone in this matter; and that it has taken remedial measures
to ensure future compliances.
6. The proposed forfeiture amount in this case was assessed in accordance
with Section 503(b) of the Act, Section 1.80 of the Rules, and The
Commission's Forfeiture Policy Statement and Amendment of Section 1.80
of the Rules to Incorporate the Forfeiture Guidelines. In examining
the Response, Section 503(b) of the Act requires that the Commission
take into account the nature, circumstances, extent and gravity of the
violation and, with respect to the violator, the degree of
culpability, any history of prior offenses, ability to pay, and other
such matters as justice may require.
7. Section 301 of the Act states that no person shall use or operate any
apparatus for the transmission of energy, or communications or signals
by radio within the United States except under and in accordance with
the Act and with a license granted under the provisions of the Act.
Section 3(33) of the Act defines "communications by radio" as "the
transmission by radio of writing, signs, signals, pictures, and sounds
of all kinds, including all instrumentalities, facilities, apparatus,
and services (among other things the receipt, forwarding, and delivery
of communications) incidental to such transmission." Section 87.473(b)
of the Commission's Rules requires that "[l]icenses for ELT test
stations will be granted only to applicants to train personnel in the
operation and location of ELTs, or for testing related to the
manufacturer or design of ELTs." Section 87.475(d) of the Rules
states the frequencies available for ELT test stations are 121.600,
121.650, 121.700, 121.750, 121.800, 121.850, and 121.900 MHz and also
states that ELT test station licensees must "[n]ot cause harmful
interference to voice communications on these frequencies or any
harmonically related frequency," and must "[c]oordinate with the
appropriate FAA Regional Spectrum Management Office prior to the
activation of each transmitter."
8. A false ELT activation has the potential to severely impact the search
and rescue network, resulting in responder resources being wasted and
misdirected. According to the United States Coast Guard ("USCG"), air
searches for false ELT activations cost the USCG thousands of dollars
per search hour. Additional costs are incurred by rescue coordination
centers, support personnel, and ground search and rescue responders.
False activations also can cause harmful interference to the Search
and Rescue Satellite System and to airplanes and vessels in the
vicinity of the signal. Additionally, a false activation may conceal
or prevent timely response to a legitimate distress signal.
9. Compatible argues that it did not willfully violate Section 301 of the
Act because it did not operate the transmitter and was not aware that
the transmitter was operating on 406 MHz until it was informed of that
fact by the Los Angeles agents On December 2, 2006. We disagree.
Compatible states it is an equipment testing facility, but
acknowledges that it does not have a license to test ELTs. Compatible
also acknowledges that tests of ELT equipment were conducted at its
facility on December 22, 2006; that its personnel were making
measurements of received signals as part of the testing of the ELT;
and that it became aware that transmissions were being made on 406 MHz
when the FCC agent visited their facility after locating the source of
the interference to the SARSAT system. Compatible's attempt to shield
itself from liability based on the assertion that its client, not its
own personnel, physically operated the ELT during the testing of the
ELT at its facility, is unavailing. As the Los Angeles Office
correctly found, Compatible provided the testing facilities,
apparatus, and services incidental to the unauthorized transmission of
communications by radio occurring on 406.025 MHz on December 22, 2006.
Thus, Compatible was responsible for the unauthorized unlicensed
operation on 406 MHz. Compatible's assertion that its unlicensed ELT
testing and consequent operation of the ELT on 406 MHz was not willful
is similarly unavailing. As Compatible correctly asserts in its
Response, Section 312(f)(1) of the Act, which applies to violations
for which forfeitures are assessed under Section 503(b) of the Act,
provides that "[t]he term 'willful', when used with reference to the
commission or omission of any act, means the conscious and deliberate
commission or omission of such act, irrespective of any intent to
violate any provision of this Act or any rule or regulation of the
Commission authorized by this Act...." Compatible acknowledged that
even after being advised by the FCC of the interference caused to the
SARSAT system by its open field testing of ELTs on 406 MHz, it
participated in and performed subsequent ELT testing on 121.5, 243 and
406 MHz at its facility on multiple days between December 22, 2006 and
January 22, 2007, in contravention of very specific rules pertaining
to appropriate testing procedures and test frequencies for these
highly-regulated public safety emergency devices. Therefore we find
that Compatible willfully supplied the testing facility, equipment and
personnel that performed the tests that resulted in the violation of
Section 301 of the Act.
10. Compatible also argues that the proposed forfeiture amount should be
reduced because Compatible did not act alone in this matter. We find
that this does not support a reduction of the forfeiture amount. We
have previously held that because Section 301 of the Act provides that
"no person shall use or operate" radio transmission equipment,
liability for unlicensed operation may be assigned to, and forfeitures
in the amount of the total base forfeiture of $10,000 may be proposed
for, any individual taking part in the operation of the unlicensed
station, regardless of who else may be responsible for the operation.
11. Compatible further argues that the proposed forfeitures amount should
be reduced because it made good faith and voluntary disclosures to the
Commission, and because it has taken remedial measures to ensure
future compliance. We find that neither of these arguments supports
reduction of the forfeiture amount. Reductions based on good faith
efforts to comply generally involve situations where violators
demonstrate that they initiated measures to correct or remedy
violations prior to a Commission inspection or investigation.
According to the record in this case, Compatible made no good faith or
voluntary disclosures or reports to the Los Angeles Office or any FCC
official until it was approached by a Los Angeles agent. In terms of
Compatible's remedial efforts, the Commission has determined that it
expects the entities it regulates to correct errors when they are
brought to the regulated entity's attention and that such correction
is not grounds for a downward adjustment in the forfeiture.
12. Finally, Compatible argues that the proposed forfeiture amount should
be reduced because it has a history of compliance with the
Commission's Rules. We have reviewed our records and we agree.
Consequently, we reduce the forfeiture amount to $8,000.
13. We have examined the Response to the NAL pursuant to the statutory
factors above, and in conjunction with the Forfeiture Policy
Statement. As a result of our review, we conclude that Compatible
willfully and repeatedly violated Section 301 of the Act. Considering
the entire record and the factors listed above, we find that reduction
of the proposed forfeiture from $10,000 to $8,000 is warranted.
IV. ORDERING CLAUSES
14. ACCORDINGLY, IT IS ORDERED that, pursuant to Section 503(b) of the
Communications Act of 1934, as amended ("Act"), and Sections 0.111,
0.311 and 1.80(f)(4) of the Commission's Rules, Compatible
Electronics, Inc., IS LIABLE FOR A MONETARY FORFEITURE in the amount
of $8,000 for willfully and repeatedly violating Section 301 of the
15. Payment of the forfeiture shall be made in the manner provided for in
Section 1.80 of the Rules within 30 days of the release of this Order.
If the forfeiture is not paid within the period specified, the case
may be referred to the Department of Justice for collection pursuant
to Section 504(a) of the Act. Payment of the forfeiture must be made
by check or similar instrument, payable to the order of the Federal
Communications Commission. The payment must include the NAL/Account
Number and FRN Number referenced above. Payment by check or money
order may be mailed to Federal Communications Commission, P.O. Box
979088, St. Louis, MO 63197-9000. Payment by overnight mail may be
sent to U.S. Bank - Government Lockbox #979088, SL-MO-C2-GL, 1005
Convention Plaza, St. Louis, MO 63101. Payment by wire transfer may be
made to ABA Number 021030004, receiving bank TREAS/NYC, and account
number 27000001. For payment by credit card, an FCC Form 159
(Remittance Advice) must be submitted. When completing the FCC Form
159, enter the NAL/Account number in block number 23A (call sign/other
ID), and enter the letters "FORF" in block number 24A (payment type
code). Requests for full payment under an installment plan should be
sent to: Chief Financial Officer -- Financial Operations, 445 12th
Street, S.W., Room 1-A625, Washington, D.C. 20554. Please contact
the Financial Operations Group Help Desk at 1-877-480-3201 or Email:
ARINQUIRIES@fcc.gov with any questions regarding payment procedures.
16. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that a copy of this Order shall be sent by First
Class Mail and Certified Mail Return Receipt Requested to Compatible
Electronics, Inc., at its address of record, and its counsel of
record, Michael H. Ritter, Esquire.
FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION
Rebecca L. Dorch
Regional Director, Western Region
47 U.S.C. S: 301.
ELTs operating on 406.0 - 406.1 MHz must be registered with the National
Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration. See 47 C.F.R. S: 87.199.
See 47 C.F.R. S: 87.197 (ELT testing must avoid outside radiation. Bench
and ground tests conducted outside of an RF-shielded enclosure must be
conducted with the ELT terminated into a dummy load.) and 47 C.F.R. S:
87.475(d) (The frequencies available for assignment to ELT test stations
are 121.600, 121.650, 121.700, 121.750, 121.800, 121.850, and 121.900
47 C.F.R. S: 2.1511(a).
Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture, NAL/Acct. No. 200732900010
(Enf. Bur., Western Region, Los Angeles Office, released May 23, 2007).
47 U.S.C. S: 503(b).
47 C.F.R. S: 1.80.
12 FCC Rcd 17087 (1997), recon. denied, 15 FCC Rcd 303 (1999).
47 U.S.C. S: 503(b)(2)(D).
47 U.S.C. S: 153(33).
47 C.F.R. S: 87.473(b).
47 C.F.R. S: 87.475(d).
Grant Lam, 22 FCC Rcd 6341 (EB 2007).
See, e.g., Donald J. Payne, 22 FCC Rcd 10776 (EB 2007).
47 U.S.C. S: 312(f)(1).
47 U.S.C. S: 301.
Joni K. Craig, 21 FCC Rcd 10793 (EB 2006) (forfeiture amount reduced on
other grounds). We note that Compatible's customer, AMERI-KING
Corporation, for the testing that is described herein also was issued a
Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture in the amount of $10,000. See
Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture, NAL/Acct. No. 200732900009
(Enf. Bur., Western Region, Los Angeles Office, released May 23, 2007).
See Radio One Licenses, Inc., 18 FCC Rcd 15964, 15965 (2003), recon.
denied, 18 FCC Rcd 25481 (2003).
AT&T Wireless Services, Inc. 17 FCC Rcd 21866, 21871-76 (2002).
47 U.S.C. S:S: 301, 503(b), 47 C.F.R. S:S: 0.111, 0.311, 1.80(f)(4).
47 U.S.C. S: 504(a).
Federal Communications Commission DA 08-403
Federal Communications Commission DA 08-403