FCC Doesn’t Owe Compensation After Seizing Carrier’s Spectrum

By Kyle Daly

The Federal Communications Commission doesn’t need to compensate a now-bankrupt wireless company for airwaves licenses the agency seized for missed payments, a federal appeals court ruled yesterday.

Alpine PCS Inc., which had declared bankruptcy and is no longer in business, sued the government in 2016 to seek at least $21million after the FCC years earlier reclaimed and resold spectrum licenses the company intended to use for planned wireless services in California.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit sided with a lower court’s tossing of the lawsuit over jurisdiction and the timing of Alpine’s claims. The Communications Act allows companies like Alpine to seek review of and compensation for FCC decisions within the agency and earlier court rulings properly dealt with the company’s claims, Judge Richard G. Taranto wrote for the Federal Circuit.

Attorney Norman Pattis of Bethany, Conn., who represented Alpine, told Bloomberg Law he was “stunned by the decision.” He plans to file a motion to reargue the case, he said.

The case is Alpine PCS, Inc. v. US, Fed. Cir., 17-1029, decision 1/2/18.