International Markets & Team Telecom

As Kelley Drye reported in an earlier post, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is moving quickly on efforts to expedite review of certain FCC applications, including, but not limited to, Section 214 and submarine cable-related applications, by the Executive Branch agencies known as Team Telecom.  In a May 2016 request to the FCC, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) suggested applicants be required to include information addressing several topics typically reviewed by Team Telecom and make certain compliance certifications in initial application filings.  In response to NTIA’s Request, the FCC released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) in June, seeking comment on a number of issues such as the confidentiality of application information, timeframes for Applicant responses to Team Telecom questions, exemptions for Applicants with existing mitigation agreements and the scope of the proposed application information requirements.  See our post on the NPRM for additional details.

The NPRM was published yesterday in the Federal Register resulting in a comment date of August 18, 2016 and a reply comment date of September 2, 2016.  All industry participants contemplating actions requiring applications impacted by the proposed rules should consider if they want to share their views on whether the proposed rules will expedite and clarify the Team Telecom review process or if the burdens will outweigh the benefits.

Should you have any questions about this proceeding and what the proposed rules may mean for your business, feel free to contact a member of Kelley Drye’s Communications practice group.

As we noted in a prior post,  on June 24, 2016, the Federal Communications Commission (Commission) adopted new mandatory network outage reporting requirements for submarine cable licensees.  The Commission’s Submarine Cable Network Outage Reporting Order (Order), released Tuesday, identifies Commission expectations and provides exact rule language for the reporting requirements which had been described at only a high-level during the Commission’s June Open Meeting.  The reporting requirements apply to all submarine cable licensees and will become effective six months after Office of Management and Budget (OMB) approval.  While the OMB approval process could extend for several months or more, affected submarine cable licensees should familiarize themselves with the reporting rules and begin developing internal mechanisms and procedures to ensure compliance once the rules become effective.

Continue Reading Details of Mandatory Network Outage Obligations for Submarine Cable Operators Released

World Global ConnectionsThe Federal Communications Commission (“Commission” or “FCC”) is looking to jump start the initial steps of the Executive Branch process of reviewing certain applications, including Section 214 and submarine cable-related applications.  In a May 2016 request from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (“NTIA”), NTIA proposed rule changes designed to facilitate more rapid opening stage review by the Executive Branch agencies known as Team Telecom (which includes the Departments of Justice, Homeland Security, Defense, Commerce, State, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and United States Trade Representative) of certain applications.  Toward that end, last Friday, the FCC adopted a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NPRM”) soliciting comments on rules to expand the information required when certain applications are filed.  The proposed rules would potentially have broad applicability, including some rules extending to applications lacking traditional levels of reportable foreign ownership.  Both domestic and international carriers and submarine cable operators should review the NPRM to determine if participation in the proceeding would advance their interests.  Comments and reply comments will be due, respectively, within 30 and 45 days of NPRM publication in the Federal Register.

Continue Reading FCC Proposes Rules to Expedite Initial Stages of the Team Telecom Application Review Process

World Global ConnectionsThe Federal Communications Commission (Commission) today adopted  mandatory network outage reporting requirements for submarine cable licensees less than a year after proposing to do so.  This mandatory reporting reflects a significant change from the voluntary submarine cable outage reporting system currently in place.  The new rules will apply to all submarine cable licensees, regardless of when they obtained their licenses, and licensees potentially will have only a six (6) month transition period before the reporting requirements take effect.  Therefore, every any submarine cable license holder should be sure to familiarize itself with the new rules and implement compliance procedures.

The text of the Order has not yet been released – so any information will be preliminary pending issuance of the Order and rules – but the discussion at today’s Commission Open Meeting provides insight into some of the new rules.  Industry advocacy appears to have been influential in convincing the FCC to soften some of the more burdensome reporting timelines although it is uncertain if efforts to reduce onerous report contents were equally successful.  In addition, the Commission stated it will open a proceeding, in three years, to revisit the reporting requirements.  Accordingly, licensees may have another opportunity to make their views known and possibly to shape the reporting requirements going forward.

Reportable Outage Threshold Extended – In Part

As proposed, licensees will have to report network outages, possibly including planned outages, of a qualifying portion of a cable system lasting more than thirty (30) minutes regardless of whether traffic can be rerouted. The trigger for reporting failure or significant degradation of a cable lasting at least four hours will trigger a reporting obligation.  However, whether the final definitions of “outage,”  “failure,” and “degradation” reflect the NPRM’s proposed definitions will remain unknown until the Order is released.

Increased Reporting Deadlines

The Commission has retained the proposed three-part reporting structure similar to existing network outage reporting regime for other communications providers.

  • For outages occurring during the first three (3) years after the rules take effect, initial reports must be submitted within eight (8) hours of the licensee identifying a reportable outage event. This timeframe marks a significant increase in time from the NPRM’s proposed two (2) hour initial report deadline.  After the first three (3) years, the time to file the initial report will be halved to four (4) hours.
  • Interim reports will be due within 24 hours of the licensee receiving a cable repair plan providing the projected cable restoration timeline and identifying any logistical challenges. This interim reporting schedule represents a substantial increase from the Commission’s initially proposed two (2) hour interim reporting timeline.
  • The final report due date remains unchanged from the NPRM proposal and will be due within seven (7) calendar days after the cable is repaired.

The enlargement of the initial and interim reporting deadlines appears to address, to some extent, licensee concerns that they simply would not have all of the proposed outage report information, such as the root cause of the outage, within the proposed shorter deadlines.  However, until the final rules are released, it is not certain exactly what information will be required for each of the reports.
The Commissioners and the Chairman generally noted the critical importance of submarine cable systems to issues such as communications, national security and the global economy, , however, the 3-2 split with Commissioner’s Pai and O’Rielly dissenting, was not unexpected.  Both Pai and O’Rielly strongly criticized various aspects of the Order with Commissioner Pai detailing numerous errors in the cost benefit analysis of the new rules and Commissioner O’Rielly questioning the reporting trigger timeframes.

The Order should be released in the near future and Kelley Drye will provide a more detailed review once the text is available.

World Global ConnectionsThe “Team Telecom” review process of applications involving foreign ownership has long endured a reputation for excessive length and opacity. It appears change may be on the horizon.  The National Telecommunications & Information Administration (NTIA) filed a letter (NTIA Letter) on May 10, 2016 with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC or Commission) requesting the Commission require applicants for certain authorizations, including international 214 authorizations and transfers, section 310 license ownership rulings, submarine cable landing licenses and satellite earth station authorizations, submit additional information and certifications with their applications.  NTIA asserts that submitting this information and certifications upfront will streamline the Executive Branch agency review process.  Today, those reviews are undertaken by the Departments of Justice, Homeland Security, Defense, Commerce, State, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and United States Trade Representative (Team Telecom).

In response to the NTIA Letter, the Commission released a Public Notice late last week seeking comments on NTIA’s request.  The Commission suggested that any comments received would inform the Commission’s planned formal rulemaking proceeding.  The FCC seeks comments on or before Monday, May 23, 2016.

Continue Reading NTIA Suggests Steps to Expedite Executive Review of Applications for Section 214 and Submarine Cable Act Authority; FCC Seeks Comment

As President Obama moves forward to revise policies toward Cuba, opportunities for carriers on the U.S.-route continue to arise. In addition to revisions to relevant FCC regulations, which we’ve covered here and here, carriers are subject to requirements applicable to any business dealing with Cuba. Although most elements of the broader trade embargo, which only Congress has the power to revoke, still remain in effect, opportunities to establish a foothold in the Cuban marketplace are expanding. Our export compliance colleagues have prepared the following client advisory discussing new rules issued by the Departments of Treasury and Commerce as part of a series of Administration steps to expand trade with Cuba. We encourage all carriers considering providing service to or in Cuba to follow these developments closely.

Continue Reading Doing Business With Cuba: New Guidance Posted

atelier-reseau-internet-mondeBy Public Notice released February 25, the Federal Communications Commission’s (“Commission” or “FCC”) International Bureau (“Bureau”) reminded filers that the annual Section 43.62 International Circuit Capacity Report (“International Capacity Report”) will be due by the traditional date of March 31.  (Last year, due to the timing of the new manual and implementation of the filing portal, the deadline was delayed one month on a one-time basis.)  The Public Notice identified some updates to the Section 43.62 filing manual (“43.62 Manual”) clarifying certain reporting requirements.  Most updates were ministerial but one is of more significance for properly completing the Circuit Capacity Report requirement. Accordingly, entities subject to the international Circuit Capacity Reporting requirement should carefully review the revised filing manual to determine the scope of their reporting obligations. Continue Reading FCC Announces March 31 International Circuit Capacity Report Filing Deadline and Update to International Circuit Capacity Report Filing Manual

This is an exciting time to think about deploying communications services to Cuba.  The Federal Communications Commission is (“FCC”) seeking comment on a proposal to eliminate one of the few remaining restrictions on facilities-based switched voice service to Cuba.  This follows FCC actions last month to enable U.S. telecom carriers to provide facilities-based telephone and Internet service to Cuba without separate approval from the FCC.  The Departments of Commerce and Treasury have also continued to take positive steps to remove barriers to trade with Cuba, further enabling telecommunications providers to bring service to Cuba.   Please click here to read our advisory which addresses these new developments in further detail.

The thawing of relations between the U.S. and Cuba continues to spark Federal Communications Commission (FCC or Commission) action to relax regulations – and thereby further open opportunities for carriers – on the U.S.-Cuba route.  On Friday, the FCC proposed yet another measure to ease regulatory requirements on carriers seeking to provide international telecommunications to Cuba.  By Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM), the FCC is soliciting comment on a proposal to eliminate one of a few remaining restrictions on facilities-based switched voice service to Cuba.  Specifically, the FCC is considering removing the nondiscrimination requirement of its International Settlement Policy (ISP) which is typically also imposed as a condition on carriers seeking to pay above-benchmark settlement rates to Cuban carriers.  The FCC also seeks comment on other related issues such as whether operating agreements between U.S. carriers and Cuban carriers should continue to be routinely available for public inspection.  Comments and reply comments on the NPRM will be due 30 and 45 days, respectively, after the NPRM is published in the Federal Register.

Continue Reading FCC Proposes Further Easing of Regulations on Telecommunications Service Providers on the U.S. – Cuba Route

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With President Obama’s announcement last December that the United States is charting a new course in its relations with Cuba, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC” or “Commission”) is taking expedited steps to open up the provision of telecommunications services between the United States and Cuba. Today, the Commission seeks comment on a proposal to remove Cuba from its Exclusion List for International Section 214 Authorizations (Exclusion List) in response to a formal request from the Department of State (State Department). Removal of Cuba from the Exclusion List – it is the only country currently on the list – would allow carriers to provide telecommunications services between the United States and Cuba. With comments due December 4th and reply comments due December 9th, the expedited time frame suggests that the Commission may already be in the process of implementing its proposal.

Continue Reading FCC Seeking Expedited Comment on Opening Service Provider Opportunities between U.S. and Cuba