Verizon Gets Straight Path as Companies Pay $614 Million Penalty

(Bloomberg) -- Verizon Communications Inc. won regulatory approval for its purchase of Straight Path Communications Inc. as the companies paid a $614 million penalty to settle allegations that Straight Path improperly left airwaves idle, regulators said.

The payment was the largest civil penalty ever paid to resolve an investigation by the Federal Communications Commission, according to the agency.

Straight Path was accused of failing to use frequencies for which it held about 1,000 licenses in violation of rules aimed at ensuring airwaves are used rather than warehoused, the commission said in a news release.

Straight Path agreed with the agency to surrender some airwaves and pay a penalty of 20 percent of the sale price of its remaining stock, leading to Wednesday’s payment.

Straight Path described itself as a holder of airwaves licenses that was able
to supply wireless capacity to companies. It controlled a vast swath of airwaves considered vital for the fifth generation of ever-speedier wireless services, or 5G, and Verizon in May won a protracted bidding war with AT&T Inc., agreeing to pay $3.1 billion for the tiny company. Straight Path, which is based in Glen Allen, Virginia, said in a news release that the merger was completed on Wednesday.

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