San Antonio-based baby bell SBC paid the FCC $6.1 million for sub-standard performance in opening and maintaining its phone lines and service for competition. Companies that compete with SBC in the Midwest have run into the same problems with long waits for phone lines and repairs that have plagued consumers.
The penalty is nearly twice as large as any paid to the FCC this year by a phone company.
As part of its merger with Ameritech, which served the Midwest, SBC agreed to meet an array of standards for providing nondiscriminatory access to its systems and services to companies that want to compete with it. Its performance is measured monthly and penalties are triggered automatically if it fails to meet standards for three consecutive months. The penalty was triggered when SBC failed to meet at least a few targets in 11 of the 13 states it serves in August, September and October, but problems were concentrated in the Ameritech region.