Faithful readers will recall that we titled the last installment of our “Pursestrings Updates” series the “final chapter”. We spoke too soon. 

On April 28, the Commission’s new application filing fees finally went into effect, after a series of delays about which we dutifully reported here . . . and here . . . and here  . . . and, well, you get the point.  We figured that, with its formal announcement of the April 28 date, the FCC had things under control.

We should have known better.

In early May, we noticed that the automatic Form 159 functions in both the Commission’s CDBS and IBFS systems were still using the old fees. And since there’s no way to override those functions when you’re filing an application, the only answer (if you wanted the application to get filed) was to file the lower – outdated – fee that the system was specifying.   (Once the application has been filed, it might be possible to submit the difference through the Commission’s Fee Filer system, which is separate and distinct from CDBS. However, we ran that potential alternative past the staff, and they recommended against going that route – possible difficulties in getting the supplemental payment  associated with the correct, underpaid, transaction, etc., etc.   Based on what we’ve seen already, we’re inclined to take that advice.)

After several calls to the Commission, we determined that (now here’s a surprise) there has been a problem with the Commission’s databases, a problem which the FCC’s technical team is working to resolve. No word on exactly when they might get it fixed.

The Commission hasn’t provided any official guidance on this situation – indeed, it hasn’t even acknowledged the glitch publicly, yet. The staff has informally advised us that, as far as they’re concerned, the new fees did kick in as of April 28, so any applications filed on or after that date are subject to the new fees, even if CDBS or IBFS didn’t ask for them. That means that any feeable filings made from April 28 on will be reviewed at some point by the Commission to determine whether the correct fee was filed. If not, the FCC will reach out to the underpaying applicants for the difference.

The good news is that, according to the staff, the Commission has no plans to bounce or withhold action on applications that weren’t filed with the correct post-April 28 filing fees.  But rest assured that the Commission will eventually come calling for the difference, once it gets on top of the situation.  Depending on how many applications were filed with the incorrect fees, the Commission may handle this through individual phone calls or announce a set of procedures for licensees to submit the additional fees. 

We’ll keep you posted . . . .