Verizon says FCC's submarine cable reporting plan will burden redundant system operators

Verizon (NYSE: VZ) said it is concerned that the FCC's proposed new rules that would require submarine cable operators to report outages to the regulator could place burdensome requirements on submarine cable providers.

In an FCC filing, Verizon said it's particularly concerned that the FCC's proposed plan would apply to both redundant and non-redundant submarine cable systems.

"[T]he NPRM's proposed rules would impose the same reporting obligations on both redundant and non-redundant systems, even though a redundant system is less prone to service-affecting events and even if a particular event did not affect service to users of the system," Verizon said in a FCC filing. "The proposed reporting regime would thus create the false impression that both redundant and non-redundant systems provide the same reliability features, and unfairly burden redundant systems with unnecessary requirements."

Under its proposed plan, the FCC said operators would have to give the regulator detail on the nature and impact of any damage and disruption to communications, help mitigate any impact on emergency services and consumers, and assist in service restoration. By providing more detailed information on submarine cable outages, the agency said it would be able to achieve three goals: identify trends, address systemic issues and inform policy making.

The service provider suggested that the FCC could achieve its goals of getting more timely reports on submarine cable outages through four main methods: creating an information clearinghouse and improving coordination among Federal agencies; completing ongoing efforts in the CSRIC V; enhancing the existing Undersea Cable Information System ("UCIS") reporting platform; and improving stakeholder education for that voluntary system.

Further, Verizon said that any new rules should focus on "those incidents with the greatest potential to adversely affect users of submarine cable systems and take into account system operators' established monitoring, operational repair capabilities and practices."

Verizon has been an active participant in the submarine cable network market.

It participates as a founding member of various submarine cable consortiums such as the Europe India Gateway (EIG) and the Trans-Pacific Express Cable.

Overall, there are 60 submarine cables providing connectivity between the U.S. and Alaska, Hawaii, Guam, American Samoa, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, as well as all connectivity between the U.S. and the rest of the world.

The FCC proposed its new rules in September following a major outage that took place on IT&E's submarine cable in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands in July, leaving residents and businesses without the ability to make credit card transactions or withdraw money from ATMs.

For more:
- see this FCC filing (PDF)

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