On Thursday, August 26, 2021, the FCC released a Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“R&O” and “FNPRM”) on the Assessment and Collection of Fees for Fiscal year (“FY”) 2021 (MD 21-190). The R&O adopts a schedule of regulatory fees to assess and collect $374,000,000 in fees for FY 2021. In light of the COVID-19 Pandemic, the FCC has extended the regulatory fee relief measures that were implemented last year, which is discussed more below. As discussed below, the FCC sets the rounded FY 2021 regulatory fee for CMRS Mobile Services at $.15 per telephone number count/subscriber and for CMRS Messaging Services at $.08 per telephone number count/subscriber. The FCC is required to collect all fees by September 30, 2021; as in prior years, we anticipate a Public Notice setting the Regulatory Fee due date will be released in the coming weeks.
The FNPRM seeks further comment on new regulatory fee categories, including whether large technology companies, unlicensed users, or other categories of users should be required to pay regulatory fees. In addition, the FCC seeks comment on several proposals for the small satellites fee category, which will be used for the first time in the 2022 regulatory fee scheduling, including: 1) how to set a fee for each small satellite license or market access grant such that the fee is not dependent on the number of satellite systems operating in a given regulatory period; 2) whether to allocate a percentage of the allocation for space station fees for small satellites; and 3) how the FCC should integrate the small satellite fee category into the overall space stations category.
Wireless Services: CMRS Cellular, mobile and messaging services (fees based on number of subscribers or telephone number count): Regulatory fees must be paid for authorizations that were grated on or before October 1, 2020. The number of subscribers, units or telephone numbers on December 31, 2020 will be used as the basis from which to calculate the fee payment. This year, the FCC is including non-geographic numbers in the calculation of subscribers for each CMRS provider. In instances where a permit or license is transferred or assigned after October 1, 2020, responsibility for payment rests with the holder of the permit or license as of the fee due date. For wireless services with multi-year fees, entities pay the fees in advance for the entire amount period covered by the ten-year terms of their initial licenses and pay regulatory fees again only when the license is renewed, or a new license is obtained.
- Appendix B lists the calculations of FY 2021 revenue requirements and the pro-rata fees by category. The FCC sets the rounded FY 2021 regulatory fee for CMRS Mobile Services at $.15 per telephone number (subscriber) count, and for CMRS Messaging Services at $.08 per telephone number (subscriber) count. (See also Appendix C).
- The Commission complies data from the Numbering Resource Utilization Forecast (“NRUF”) report based on “assigned” telephone number (subscriber) counts that have been adjusted for porting to net Type 0 ports (“in” and “out”). This subscriber count information is posted on the FCC’s electronic filing and payment system (Fee Filer) along with the carrier’s Operating Company Numbers.
COVID-19: In response to the current COVID-19 pandemic, the FCC has adopted or modified several regulatory fee collection provisions to provide flexibility for regulatory payors whose businesses might have suffered financial harm due to the pandemic. The FCC is:
- Simplifying the filing requirements for waiver, reduction, and deferral requests for FY 2021 fees to ensure regulates needing assistance are not precluded on procedural grounds. Additionally, direct requests may temporarily be submitted by email at: [email protected].
- Allowing parties to temporarily request extended payment terms for FY 2021 regulatory fees by email at: [email protected]. Installment payment requests may be combined with waiver, reduction, and deferral requests in a single request.
- Reducing the rate the FCC charges on instalment payments to a nominal rate and exercising its discretion to forego the down payment normally required before granting an installment payment request.
- Directing the Managing Director to work with individuals who have submitted financial documentation as proof of hardship that differs from documentation that the FCC has traditionally accepted to obtain additional documents that may be needed to render a decision.
- Waiving, in part, the red light rule to allow debtors that are experiencing financial hardship to nonetheless request relief with respect to their regulatory fees.
For more information on regulatory fees, visit http://www.fcc.gov/regfees.
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