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Canadian National Railway to Pay $5.25 Million for FCC Licensing Violations

Canadian FlagCanadian National Railway Company has agreed to a $5.25 million civil penalty to settle charges by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that the company failed obtain approval for the acquisition and operations of hundreds of wireless radio facilities in the U.S.

Canadian National Railway is a Montreal-based corporation that offers freight warehousing and distribution services throughout Canada as well as parts of the U.S. The company reportedly came into possession of FCC-authorized wireless radio services as a result of a series of rail service acquisitions in 1995. (Devices employing wireless radio transmissions are frequently used in the industry to ensure the safe operation of trains.)

However, a 2012 internal audit by the company determined that Canadian National had engaged in unauthorized transactions related to its wireless radio services since their acquisition. In addition, the audit determined that the company and its predecessor companies had constructed, relocated, modified or operated several hundred wireless facilities without FCC authorization as far back as 1990. A subsequent investigation by the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau further documented hundreds of unlicensed wireless operations by the company.

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Maxwell’s Equations are eloquently simple yet excruciatingly complex. Their first statement by James Clerk Maxwell in 1864 heralded the beginning of the age of radio and, one could argue, the age of modern electronics.

According to the FCC, “the scope and duration of these unauthorized operations is unprecedented in the history of the Commission,” thereby justifying what the Commission says is the largest civil penalty related to unauthorized radio operations and transfers of control.

Read the complete text (PDF) of the Commission’s Order in connection with Canadian National Railway.

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