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SBC pays up. Again.

Tue, 04/03/2001 - 8:00pm
Anne Kerven

Talk about irony.

"This merger puts consumers first," said SBC Communications Inc. Chair and CEO Edward E. Whitacre Jr. in a 1999 statement announcing SBC's agreement to performance terms in its merger with Ameritech.

But last month, the FCC collected another $4.6 million in penalties from SBC. The payment, made public yesterday, brings the company's total fines to $23 million, including $88,000 last year.

The fines stem from SBC not meeting performance requirements it agreed to in its 1999 merger with Ameritech. SBC reportedly has been besieged with complaints from customers and is launching a massive improvement project.

SBC and the FCC dispute the reason for the $88,000; the FCC says SBC used incorrect benchmarks and excluded key data. SBC says there was a dispute over what data was needed.

But it appears SBC has a wide berth for what it and the FCC call voluntary payments, which can reach $2 billion.

A 1999 statement announcing the agreement to terms of the merger notes, "The conditions also require stringent performance monitoring, reporting and enforcement provisions that could trigger more than $2 billion in payments by the company if certain goals are not met."

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