On Oct. 24, 2017, the Federal Communications Commission released a Report and Order in which the agency reduced the reporting requirements (found under Section 43.62 of the FCC’s rules) for providers of U.S.-international telecommunications services. Specifically, the FCC eliminated the annual international Traffic and Revenue Reports and streamlined the Circuit Capacity Report filing requirements.

The Oct. 24 decision is the culmination of several years of FCC efforts to reduce reporting obligations for providers of international services.

Long-time readers of our blog may recall that we reported on FCC reductions to international reporting obligations back in 2013 – but those efforts also resulted in the implementation of new reporting obligations. In May of this year, we covered the FCC’s kick-off to its latest proposal to reduce Section 43.62’s reporting requirements, starting with a temporary waiver of the International Traffic and Revenue Report requirement for 2017 and culminating in the FCC’s release of the Oct. 24 Report and Order granting more permanent relief.

So what does this new reduction in reporting requirements all mean? Let’s dig in.

Elimination of Traffic and Revenue Data Reports

The FCC eliminated the traffic and revenue data reporting requirement on the grounds that the collection of such information was no longer necessary to ensuring competition among U.S.-international carriers. Instead, the FCC will now rely upon targeted revenue and traffic data requests to specific international service providers – as well as third-party commercial data sources – to monitor competition among such providers.

The FCC, however, will require international carriers to submit a one-time report detailing the routes on which carriers have direct termination agreements with carriers in foreign destinations. Carriers with existing direct termination agreements must submit their list of such agreements within 30 days after the FCC’s International Bureau releases a public notice detailing the filing procedures for such lists. New carriers or carriers without existing direct termination agreements, must submit their lists within 30 days of entering into such agreements with a foreign carrier. Going forward, all international carriers will be required to update their direct termination agreement lists within 30 days of executing a new or discontinuing a previously listed termination arrangement.

Streamlining of Circuit Capacity Reports

The FCC concluded that Circuit Capacity Reports remained necessary for the Commission to monitor competition, national security, and public safety, but only with respect to submarine cables. Consequently, the FCC eliminated international circuit capacity reporting requirements for terrestrial and satellite facilities. According to the Report and Order, such information was only required for purposes of administering FCC regulatory fees, and the Commission noted that a pending proceeding was exploring more efficient and less burdensome methodologies for assessing regulatory fees for terrestrial and satellite international bearer circuits.

Finally, the FCC directed the International Bureau to revise the Circuit Capacity Report’s filing manual to implement necessary modifications to the report. Accordingly, the Commission delegated authority to the Bureau to delay as necessary the Circuit Capacity Report’s March 31, 2018, deadline until the issuance of a new filing manual by the Bureau.

Effectiveness of New Rules

The new rules are scheduled to become effective 30 days after publication of the Report and Order in the Federal Register. However, rule changes involving information collections require the approval of the Office of Management and Budget under the Paperwork Reduction Act, and will not become effective until notice of such approval is published in the Federal Register. Be sure to check back here for updates.