SBC Communications paid $4.6 million in fines to federal regulators late last month for failing to meet a set of obligations related to its merger with Ameritech last year, according to documents released Tuesday. The payments stem from a monthly review of nearly 2,000 specific conditions associated with the merger. This is the fourth fine SBC has had to pay based on those restrictions.
The company has come under fire in recent weeks for minimizing some of its merger obligations. Specifically, it has said it will make only a minimal effort to sell telephone service in new markets, and has backed away from expanding its high-speed Internet service into those markets. The company said it was aware of the problems, and that a combination of poor winter weather and an unexpected staffing shortage had caused the delays. SBC has mounted a quality of service campaign in those states, and hired about 3,800 new workers to help defray the shortfall.