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FCC goes after building responsible for 'harmful interference' with Verizon's network

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Verizon stock 1020 1
Verizon stock 1020 1

The FCC has issued a formal citation to property owners in Los Angeles after finding that fluorescent lights in their office building are causing problems for Verizon's LTE network. The Ernst & Young Plaza building in downtown LA uses GE-manufactured lights that the company once admitted "have the potential to cause interference with certain types of wireless communications." Sure enough, last year Verizon noticed some problems in the area and managed to pinpoint the trouble to Ernst & Young Plaza. The carrier complained to the FCC, and the commission dispatched agents to sort things out with Brookfield Office Properties. At that time, they were told that Brookfield was aware of the issue and actively investigating.

Verizon has been complaining for months

But months went by without answers — and the lights are still causing headaches for Verizon. After receiving more complaints from America's largest carrier, the FCC went out in November with direction-finding equipment and verified that the building's lights were responsible for the interference. Now the FCC is demanding that Brookfield lay out its plan to rectify the situation within 60 days; continued violations could result in fines of $16,000 for each day that the network problems persist. Equipment seizures and "criminal sanctions" including imprisonment are also on the table, according to the citation. Broofield has 30 days to appeal the FCC's finding.

Fluorescent lights are regulated by the FCC since they fall under "industrial, scientific, and medical (ISM) equipment." These interference situations are rare, but not unheard of. Last year, AT&T noticed similar issues at a Texas hair salon. In that case, the carrier discovered that lights at Perfect Cuts salon were interfering with its 4G network. GE's lights were again at fault, and the company offered to replace them at no cost. But the salon's owner wanted to handle installation himself; he asked for cash instead, and GE promptly refused that idea. Late last year, the FCC delivered a citation to the salon's owner threatening stiff financial penalties if the situation went on unresolved.