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$25K NAL to Winchester Wireless for Unauthorized Operation

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Released: March 11, 2014

Federal Communications Commission

DA 14-328

Before the

Federal Communications Commission

Washington, D.C. 20554

In the Matter of
)
)
Custom Computers d.b.a. Winchester Wireless
)
File No.: EB-FIELDNER-13-00009170
)
NAL/Acct. No.: 201432340001

)
FRN: 0023200199
Operator of Wireless Internet Service Provider
)
Winchester, VA
)

NOTICE OF APPARENT LIABILITY FOR FORFEITURE AND ORDER

Adopted: March 10, 2014
Released: March 11, 2014
By the District Director, Columbia Office, Northeast Region, Enforcement Bureau:

I.

INTRODUCTION

1.
In this Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture and Order (NAL), we find that Custom
Computers d.b.a. Winchester Wireless (Winchester Wireless), a Wireless Internet Service Provider in
Winchester, Virginia, apparently willfully violated Section 301 of the Communications Act of 1934, as
amended (Act),1 and Section 15.1(b) of the Commission’s rules (Rules)2 by operating intentional radiators
not in accordance with Part 15 of the Rules3 and without a license. We conclude that Winchester Wireless
is apparently liable for a forfeiture in the amount of twenty-five thousand dollars ($25,000). In addition, we
direct Winchester Wireless to submit, no later than thirty (30) calendar days from the date of this NAL, a
statement signed under penalty of perjury stating that it is currently operating its Wireless Internet Service in
compliance with FCC rules and applicable authorizations.

II.

BACKGROUND

2.
Part 15 of the Rules allows devices employing relatively low-level radiofrequency (RF)
signals to be operated without individual licenses, as long as their operation causes no harmful
interference to licensed services and the devices do not generate emissions or field strength levels greater
than a specified limit.4 Such devices must be authorized and operated in accordance with the Part 15
Rules.5 For example, Section 15.1(c) of the Rules provides that intentional radiators must operate
consistent with the terms of their equipment authorizations.6 Additionally, operating a Part 15 device in a


1 47 U.S.C. §§ 301, 302a(b).
2 47 C.F.R. §§ 15.1(b), (c), 15.204(a).
3 47 C.F.R. §§ 15.1 et seq.
4 Revision of Part 15 of the Rules Regarding the Operation of Radio Frequency Devices Without an Individual
License
, First Report and Order, 4 FCC Rcd 3493 (1989).
5 47 C.F.R. §§ 15.1(a), 15.5.
6 See 47 C.F.R. § 15.1(c). Section 15.201(b) of the Rules provides that all intentional radiators operating under Part
15 of the Rules shall be certificated by the Commission. 47 C.F.R. § 15.201(b). The Commission issues equipment
authorizations for such devices, setting forth the relevant conditions to the grant.

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DA 14-328

manner that is inconsistent with the Part 15 Rules requires a license pursuant to Section 301 of the Act.
Such operation without a license violates Section 301 of the Act.7
3.
On May 10, 2011, in response to a complaint, an agent from the Enforcement Bureau’s
Columbia Office (Columbia Office) inspected a transmitter device operated by Winchester Wireless on the
roof of a residence at Wardensville Grade in Winchester, Virginia. During the inspection, the agent
determined that the device was a Motorola Canopy transmitter8 and that the transmitter was connected to
two external RF Linx 900 MHz amplifiers that were individually fed into two antennas. When the agent
later interviewed David Williamson, the owner of Winchester Wireless, at Winchester Wireless’s main
office, Mr. Williamson admitted to using the amplifiers. The agent subsequently reviewed the FCC
certification for the Motorola Canopy System, which indicated that the Motorola Canopy System is not
certified for use with external amplifiers.9
4.
On August 11, 2011, the Columbia Office issued a Notice of Unlicensed Operation to
Winchester Wireless regarding its unauthorized use of the external amplifiers at Wardensville Grade.10 The
2011 Notice directed Winchester Wireless to cease operating any transmitting devices until its system could
be brought into compliance with Part 15 of the Rules. The 2011 Notice also warned Winchester Wireless
that continued unauthorized operation could result in severe penalties, including, but not limited to,
substantial monetary fines. In addition, the 2011 Notice directed Winchester Wireless to describe the steps
it planned to take to ensure that its operation at Wardensville Grade, as well as other locations, complied
with Part 15 of the Rules. On August 29, 2011, Mr. Williamson responded to the 2011 Notice and reported
that the amplifiers had been removed from the Wardensville Grade location; Mr. Williamson did not
provide any information regarding Winchester Wireless’s operations at other locations.11
5.
On May 29, 2013, in response to two additional complaints, an agent from the Columbia
Office inspected two transmitter sites operated by Winchester Wireless. The transmitter sites were located at
residences on Pepper Lane in Winchester, Virginia, and Shawnee Trail, also in Winchester, Virginia.12 At
both locations, the agent observed signals emanating in the 902-928 MHz band. In addition, the agent
observed the same Motorola Canopy System and RF Linx equipment that he had observed during the 2011
inspection.13 On July 29, 2013, the Columbia Office issued a Notice of Unlicensed Operation to Winchester
Wireless regarding its continued unauthorized use of external amplifiers.14 On July 31, 2013, Winchester


7 47 C.F.R. § 15.1(b).
8 The transmitter was a Motorola Canopy, Model # 9000APC AP, FCC ID ABZ89FC5809.
9 See FCC ID ABZ89FC5809.
10 Custom Computers d.b.a. Winchester Wireless, Notice of Unlicensed Operation (Enf. Bur., Columbia Office
August 11, 2011) (on file in EB-FIELDNER-13-00009170) (2011 Notice).
11 E-mail from David Williamson, owner of Winchester Wireless, to Shannon Gunter, FCC Agent, Columbia Office
(August 29, 2011) (on file in EB-FIELDNER-13-00009170).
12 Winchester Wireless previously identified these transmitter sites in an e-mail to the FCC agent. Id. The agent also
inspected a third site where use of an amplifier could not be confirmed.
13 The transmitters and amplifiers observed by the agent during the inspections on May 29, 2013 were mounted on
towers and masts that were not accessible by the agent.
14 Custom Computers d.b.a. Winchester Wireless, Notice of Unlicensed Operation (July 29, 2013) (on file in EB-
FIELDNER-13-00009170) (2013 Notice).
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Wireless responded to the 2013 Notice indicating that it would inspect the two transmitter sites for
compliance with the Part 15 Rules.15

III.

DISCUSSION

6.
Section 503(b) of the Act provides that any person who willfully or repeatedly fails to
comply substantially with the terms and conditions of any license, or willfully or repeatedly fails to comply
with any of the provisions of the Act or of any rule, regulation, or order issued by the Commission
thereunder, shall be liable for a forfeiture penalty.16 Section 312(f)(1) of the Act defines “willful” as the
“conscious and deliberate commission or omission of [any] act, irrespective of any intent to violate” the
law.17 The legislative history to Section 312(f)(1) of the Act clarifies that this definition of willful applies to
both Sections 312 and 503(b) of the Act,18 and the Commission has so interpreted the term in the Section
503(b) context.19 The Commission may also assess a forfeiture for violations that are merely repeated,
and not willful.20 The term “repeated” means the commission or omission of such act more than once or for
more than one day.21

A.

Unlicensed Operations

7.
Section 301 of the Act requires 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.22 Part 15 of the Rules,23 however, sets forth conditions
under which intentional radiators may operate without an individual license. Pursuant to Section 15.1(b)
of the Rules, “the operation of an intentional or unintentional radiator that is not in accordance with the
regulations in [Part 15] must be licensed pursuant to the provisions of Section 301 of the Communications


15 E-mail from David Williamson, Owner of Winchester Wireless, to Shannon Gunter, FCC Agent, Columbia Office
(Enf. Bur., Columbia Office July 31, 2013) (on file in EB-FIELDNER-13-00009170).
16 47 U.S.C. § 503(b).
17 47 U.S.C. § 312(f)(1).
18 H.R. Rep. No. 97-765, 97th Cong. 2d Sess. 51 (1982) (“This provision [inserted in Section 312] defines the terms
‘willful’ and ‘repeated’ for purposes of section 312, and for any other relevant section of the act (e.g., Section 503)
. . . . As defined[,] . . . ‘willful’ means that the licensee knew that he was doing the act in question, regardless of
whether there was an intent to violate the law. ‘Repeated’ means more than once, or where the act is continuous, for
more than one day. Whether an act is considered to be ‘continuous’ would depend upon the circumstances in each
case. The definitions are intended primarily to clarify the language in Sections 312 and 503, and are consistent with
the Commission’s application of those terms . . . .”).
19 See, e.g., Southern California Broadcasting Co., Memorandum Opinion and Order, 6 FCC Rcd 4387, 4388
(1991), recons. denied, 7 FCC Rcd 3454 (1992).
20 See, e.g., Callais Cablevision, Inc., Notice of Apparent Liability for Monetary Forfeiture, 16 FCC Rcd 1359,
1362, para. 10 (2001) (Callais Cablevision, Inc.) (proposing a forfeiture for, inter alia, a cable television operator’s
repeated signal leakage).
21 Section 312(f)(2) of the Act, 47 U.S.C. § 312(f)(2), which also applies to violations for which forfeitures are
assessed under Section 503(b) of the Act, provides that “[t]he term 'repeated', when used with reference to the
commission or omission of any act, means the commission or omission of such act more than once or, if such
commission or omission is continuous, for more than one day.” See Callais Cablevision, Inc., 16 FCC Rcd at 1362.
22 47 U.S.C. § 301.
23 See 47 C.F.R. §§ 15.1 et seq.

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DA 14-328

Act….”24 Thus, if an intentional radiator fails to comply with all of the applicable conditions set forth in
Part 15 of the Rules, it is no longer covered by the unlicensed provisions of those Rules and must obtain
an individual license pursuant to Section 301 of the Act.
8.
On May 29, 2013, as described above, an agent from the Columbia Office observed
Winchester Wireless operate its Motorola Canopy Systems with external amplifiers at two different
locations. The Motorola Canopy System is not certified to operate with an external amplifier. Therefore,
Winchester Wireless’s operations did not comply with the device’s equipment authorization or Part 15
requirements and thus required a license. According to Commission records, Winchester Wireless does
not hold a license to operate in the 900 MHz band in Winchester, Virginia. Thus, based on the evidence
before us, we find that Winchester Wireless apparently willfully violated Section 301 of the Act and
Section 15.1(b) of the Rules by operating unlicensed radio transmitters on May 29, 2013.

B.

Proposed Forfeiture and Reporting Requirement

9.
Pursuant to the Commission’s Forfeiture Policy Statement and Section 1.80 of the Rules,
the base forfeiture amount for operation without an instrument of authorization is $10,000.25 In assessing
the monetary forfeiture amount, we must also take into account the statutory factors set forth in Section
503(b)(2)(E) of the Act, which include the nature, circumstances, extent, and gravity of the violations, and
with respect to the violator, the degree of culpability, and history of prior offenses, ability to pay, and other
such matters as justice may require.26 Because Winchester Wireless operated its Motorola Canopy system
with unauthorized amplifiers at two separate locations, we propose a $10,000 forfeiture for operation
without an instrument of authorization at each location.
10.
In addition, Winchester Wireless had the same type of violation less than two years
earlier. Indeed, the 2011 Notice expressly warned that the equipment certification for the Motorola
Canopy System did not authorize the use of such amplifiers. Winchester Wireless’s actions demonstrate a
deliberate disregard for the Commission's requirements and we therefore find a $5,000 upward
adjustment in the forfeiture is warranted.27 Applying the Forfeiture Policy Statement, Section 1.80 of the
Rules, and the statutory factors to the instant case, we conclude that Winchester Wireless is apparently liable
for a forfeiture in the amount of $25,000 for violations of Section 301 of the Act and Section 15.1(b) of the
Rules. We caution Winchester Wireless that we may impose larger forfeitures in future cases if the
circumstances warrant or if our current approach does not serve as a sufficient deterrent.
11.
We further order Winchester Wireless to submit a written statement, pursuant to Section
1.16 of the Rules, signed under penalty of perjury by an officer or director of Winchester Wireless, stating
that Winchester Wireless is now operating all of its Part 15 devices in compliance with their equipment


24 47 C.F.R. § 15.1(b).
25 12 FCC Rcd 17087 (1997), recon. denied, 15 FCC Rcd 303 (1999); 47 C.F.R. §1.80.
26 47 U.S.C. § 503(b)(2)(E).
27 See Argos Net, Inc., Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture and Order, 27 FCC Rcd 2786 (San Juan Office,
Enf. Bur. 2012) (proposing total forfeiture in the amount of $25,000 for violations of Section 301 of the Act and
Section 15.1(b) of the Rules, which included $20,000 for operation of two unlicensed devices not in accordance with
Part 15 of the Rules plus a $5,000 upward adjustment for continuing the unlicensed operation after receiving a
warning) (NAL), Argos Net, Inc., Forfeiture Order, 28 FCC Rcd 1126 (Enf. Bur. 2013) (affirming findings in NAL,
but reducing the forfeiture amount based on the company’s history of compliance with the Commission’s rules).
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DA 14-328

authorizations and the Rules. This statement must be provided to the Columbia Office at the address listed
in paragraph 14 within thirty (30) calendar days of the release date of this NAL.

C.

ORDERING CLAUSES
12.
Accordingly,

IT IS ORDERED

that, pursuant to Section 503(b) of the Communications
Act of 1934, as amended, and Sections 0.111, 0.204, 0.311, 0.314, and 1.80 of the Commission’s rules,
Custom Computers d.b.a. Winchester Wireless is hereby

NOTIFIED

of this

APPARENT LIABILITY
FOR A FORFEITURE

in the amount of twenty-five thousand dollars ($25,000) for violations of Section
301 of the Act and Section 15.1(b) of the Commission’s rules.28
13.
I

T IS FURTHER ORDERED

that, pursuant to Section 1.80 of the Commission’s rules,
within thirty (30) calendar days of the release date of this Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture and
Order, Custom Computers d.b.a. Winchester Wireless

SHALL PAY

the full amount of the proposed
forfeiture or

SHALL FILE

a written statement seeking reduction or cancellation of the proposed forfeiture.
14.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED

that Custom Computers d.b.a. Winchester Wireless

SHALL SUBMIT

a written statement, as described in paragraph 11, within thirty (30) calendar days of
the release date of this Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture and Order. The statement must be
mailed to Federal Communications Commission, Enforcement Bureau, Northeast Region, Columbia
Office, 9200 Farm House Lane, Columbia, Maryland, 21046. Winchester Wireless shall also e-mail the
written statement to NER-Response@fcc.gov.
15.
Payment of the forfeiture must be made by check or similar instrument, wire transfer, or
credit card, and must include the NAL/Account number and FRN referenced above. Winchester Wireless
shall also send electronic notification on the date said payment is made to NER-Response@fcc.gov.
Regardless of the form of payment, a completed FCC Form 159 (Remittance Advice) must be
submitted.29 When completing the FCC Form 159, enter the Account Number in block number 23A (call
sign/other ID) and enter the letters “FORF” in block number 24A (payment type code). Below are
additional instructions you should follow based on the form of payment you select:
·
Payment by check or money order must be made payable to the order of the Federal
Communications Commission. Such payments (along with the completed Form 159) must be
mailed to Federal Communications Commission, P.O. Box 979088, St. Louis, MO 63197-9000,
or sent via overnight mail to U.S. Bank – Government Lockbox #979088, SL-MO-C2-GL, 1005
Convention Plaza, St. Louis, MO 63101.
·
Payment by wire transfer must be made to ABA Number 021030004, receiving bank
TREAS/NYC, and Account Number 27000001. To complete the wire transfer and ensure
appropriate crediting of the wired funds, a completed Form 159 must be faxed to U.S. Bank at
(314) 418-4232 on the same business day the wire transfer is initiated.
·
Payment by credit card must be made by providing the required credit card information on FCC
Form 159 and signing and dating the Form 159 to authorize the credit card payment. The
completed Form 159 must then be mailed to Federal Communications Commission, P.O. Box
979088, St. Louis, MO 63197-9000, or sent via overnight mail to U.S. Bank – Government
Lockbox #979088, SL-MO-C2-GL, 1005 Convention Plaza, St. Louis, MO 63101. Any request


28 47 U.S.C. §§ 301, 503(b); 47 C.F.R. §§ 0.111, 0.204, 0.311, 0.314, 1.80, 15.1(b).
29 An FCC Form 159 and detailed instructions for completing the form may be obtained at
http://www.fcc.gov/Forms/Form159/159.pdf.
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for making full payment over time under an installment plan should be sent to: Chief Financial
Officer—Financial Operations, Federal Communications Commission, 445 12th Street, S.W.,
Room 1-A625, Washington, D.C. 20554.30 If you have questions regarding payment procedures,
please contact the Financial Operations Group Help Desk by phone, 1-877-480-3201, or by
e-mail, ARINQUIRIES@fcc.gov.
16.
The written statement seeking reduction or cancellation of the proposed forfeiture, if any,
must include a detailed factual statement supported by appropriate documentation and affidavits pursuant
to Sections 1.16 and 1.80(f)(3) of the Rules.31 Mail the written statement to Federal Communications
Commission, Enforcement Bureau, Northeast Region, Columbia Office, 9200 Farm House Lane,
Columbia, MD, 21046, and include the NAL/Acct. No. referenced in the caption. Custom Computers d.b.a.
Winchester Wireless also shall e-mail the written response to NER-Response@fcc.gov.
17.
The Commission will not consider reducing or canceling a forfeiture in response to a claim
of inability to pay unless the petitioner submits: (1) federal tax returns for the most recent three-year period;
(2) financial statements prepared according to generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP); or (3)
some other reliable and objective documentation that accurately reflects the petitioner’s current financial
status. Any claim of inability to pay must specifically identify the basis for the claim by reference to the
financial documentation submitted.
18.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED

that a copy of this Notice of Apparent Liability for
Forfeiture and Order shall be sent by both Certified Mail, Return Receipt Requested, and first class mail to
Custom Computers d.b.a. Winchester Wireless at 2979 Valley Avenue, Winchester, Virginia, 22601.
FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION
Salomon Satche
District Director
Columbia Office
Northeast Region
Enforcement Bureau


30 See 47 C.F.R. § 1.1914.
31 47 C.F.R. §§ 1.16, 1.80(f)(3).
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