FCC Announces Important Changes in 2009 International Submarine Cable Fees
Yesterday, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced new 2009 regulatory fees for international submarine cable licensees. These fees are due Sept. 22, 2009. This is the first time that they have been calculated under a new methodology adopted last spring.
Under the old rules, submarine cable fees were based on the number of active international bearer circuits used to provide service to particular types of entities/customers, and distinguished between licensees operating on a common carrier basis and those operating on a non-common carrier basis.
Under the new rules, by contrast, submarine cable licensees pay a flat fee for each cable landing license, not for the number of active circuits. It is important to note that each cable system must pay a single fee to the FCC. For systems with multiple licensees, the licensees are responsible for determining among themselves who will pay how much, and they are collectively responsible for ensuring that the entire fee is paid.
Also, under the new rules, the fee varies depending on the size of the cable system. Operators of “large” cable systems—those with a capacity of 20 Gbps or greater—will pay a higher fee. Operators of “small” cable systems (under 20 Gbps) will be subject to a sliding scale of fees associated with specific capacity ranges.
The FCC has also eliminated the differences in the fee rules between systems regulated on a common carrier or non-common carrier basis. Both types of systems are now subject to the same rules described above. Satellite and terrestrial international circuit providers, however, continue to pay under the prior regulations based on the number of active circuits (although the FCC may further consider whether to impose circuit fees on non-common carrier terrestrial circuits for future years).
Yesterday’s notice can be accessed on the FCC’s Web site. The notice lists the specific fee due for each cable system.
If you have questions about your regulatory fee obligations, please contact your Davis Wright Tremaine attorney or one of the attorneys listed above.