FCC Announces NPRM for Improving Outage Reporting For Submarine Cables

The Commission released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking improving outage reporting for submarine cables and enhancing submarine cable outage data.  The proposal replaces the Commission’s Undersea Cable Information System (“UCIS”) in its entirety by extending modified outage reporting requirements in Part 4 of the Commission’s rules to submarine cable licenses.  Comments will be due 30 days after publication in the Federal Register and Reply Comments will be due 45 days after publication in the Federal Register.

The NPRM is the result of inadequacies, such as the outages affecting the Mariannas, within the current submarine cable reporting system.   The Commission proposes to require submarine cable licensees to report to the Commission when outages occur and communications are disrupted. Specifically, the Commission would require submarine cable licensees to report outages involving either lost connectivity or degradation of 50 percent or more of an undersea cable’s capacity for periods of at least 30 minutes, regardless of whether the cable’s traffic is re-routed.  Additionally, the Commission proposes to amend the submarine cable landing license rules to require compliance with the outage reporting requirements.

The proposal includes a three-report system that requires a Notification, and Interim Report to inform the Commission when repairs have been scheduled, and a Final Report for each outage event.  The Notification would be required to be filed within 120 minutes from the time that the licensee has determined that an event is reportable, the Interim Report is required when the repair has been scheduled, and a Final Report due seven days after the repair is completed.  Additionally, the Commission is seeking comment on whether to share its Part 4 NORS outage reporting data with other federal agencies and/or state governments.  Currently the US Army Cops of Engineers, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the National Marine Fisheries Service of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are all involved in the installation and authorization process of submarine cable systems.  The Commission seeks to expedite cable deployment through working with other agencies.

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