The FCC has released its annual Report and Order showing the regulatory fees due for the 2018 fiscal year. Fees must be paid by 11:59 pm Eastern time on September 25, although the FCC‘s Fee Filer is accepting fee payments now. As in past years, the FCC will not be mailing out any notices of fees due. It is up to each licensee, permittee or regulatee to insure that these fees are timely paid. Fees paid even one day late will be subject to a 25% penalty plus administrative processing charges, so timely payment is critical. Licensees or permittees that fail to pay their regulatory fees in full will not be able to get FCC action on any subsequently-filed applications or receive disbursements from the federal universal service programs such as E-rate, pursuant to the Commission's "red light" policy until all fees and penalties are paid.

Regulatory fees can only be paid by wire, online ACH payment, debit card (Visa/MasterCard) or online credit card , and all payers will need both an FCC Registration Number (FRN) and a completed "Fee Filer Form" 159-E prior to filing. The FCC no longer accepts checks or paper filings. Also, credit card payments are limited to $24,999.99, although debit card payments have no limit.

For most services, fees are based on FCC licenses and permits held as of October 1, 2017 (the first day of the FCC’s 2018 fiscal year), although cable TV rates are based on the number of basic subscribers as of December 31, 2017, and the interstate telecommunications service provider/VoIP fees are based on the 2017 revenues reported on the entity’s 2018 FCC Form 499-A. Noncommercial stations and all nonprofit entities are exempt from paying regulatory fees.

This year, the FCC is increasing the regulatory fee for DBS providers from 38 cents to 48 cents per subscriber and decreasing the cable TV rate from 95 cents to 77 cents per subscriber in an attempt to bring those rates closer together. Following a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking issued last year, the FCC decided to maintain its existing bulk rate calculation for multiple dwelling unit subscribers.

For the second year in a row, the FCC is keeping the de minimis threshold for regulatory fees at $1000, meaning that any person or entity that owes $1000 or less is exempt from having to pay regulatory fees. As has been the case for several years now, broadcast auxiliary licenses are also exempt from regulatory fees.

Although a summary of fees is shown below, the FCC website contains links to more information about the fees owed, including fees for services not mentioned below.

A. Broadcast Services

1. AM and FM Radio

2. Digital Television

The FCC has eliminated the distinction between VHF and UHF for digital TV regulatory fees, as follows:

3. LPTV, Class A, TV/FM Translators & Boosters $380 per license (2017 = $430)

4. Broadband Radio (MDS/MMDS) & LMDS $600 per call sign (2017 = $800)


1. Cable Television Systems 77¢ per subscriber (2017 = 95¢)

2. Cable Antenna Relay Service (CARS) $1,075 (2017 = $935)

3. Direct Broadcast Service (DBS) 48¢ per subscriber (2017 = 38¢)


1. CMRS Mobile/Cellular Services 20¢ per unit (2017 = 21¢)

2. CMRS Messaging Services 8¢ per unit (unchanged)

3. Microwave (includes Domestic Public Fixed Radio)

Microwave licensees must pay a $25 annual regulatory fee per year, payable for an entire ten-year license term at the time of application for a new, renewal or reinstatement license. The total regulatory fee due is $250 for the ten-year license term. (unchanged)


These fees are assessed on interconnected VoIP services, as well as traditional services such as local exchange, interexchange (long distance) and resold services.