In a second deregulatory action undertaken by the FCC on Tuesday, the agency’s commissioners voted unanimously to ease or eliminate international telecommunications service provider reporting requirements that are now deemed to be obsolete or unduly burdensome.
Specifically, the FCC’s order eliminates the annual International Traffic and Revenue reporting requirement which had been in place since 1941 and for which the FCC recently determined that the costs of data collection now exceed the benefits. Citing “dramatic declines in the settlement rates on most U.S.-international routes” since 2000, Kim Cook, an attorney-advisor with the FCC’s International Bureau—advised the five -member FCC panel that the Commission can now rely on “targeted data collections on an as-needed basis in combination with third-party commercial data sources to obtain the information needed to meet its statutory objectives.” Commissioner Michael O’Rielly also highlighted the significant time burden imposed on carriers and FCC staff members in collecting, submitting and reviewing International Traffic and Revenue report data. One industry participant estimated that the reporting took 790 hours per year per reporting entity.
Separately, the order also streamlines the International Circuit Capacity report to eliminate the requirement that carriers submit circuit data for terrestrial and satellite facilities. Concluding, however, that the benefits of the International Circuit Capacity Report “continue to justify the estimated costs of this data collection,” the FCC stated in a press release that collection of all remaining data covered by that report is necessary “for the Commission to fulfill its statutory obligations, including those related to national security and public safety.” Terming the FCC’s action as “a win for consumers and common sense,” U.S. Telecom Association President Jonathan Spatler proclaimed that, “by jettisoning the need for decades-old reporting requirements, broadband providers can remain focused on the national priority of expanding, upgrading and investing in networks so every American has access to the opportunities broadband builds.”