FCC chairman wants submarine cable outages reported

Excerpted from Submarine Cable World Daily Newsfeed: U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Tom Wheeler has proposed that submarine cable operators be required to report all outages, as other types of telecom providers must.

Undersea cables carry more than 95 percent of all U.S. international voice, data, and Internet traffic. There are approximately 60 submarine cables that provide virtually all connectivity between the U.S. and the rest of the world. Many submarine cables are jointly owned and operated by multiple companies.

While submarine cables are vital to America’s economic and national security, licensees currently only report outages on an ad hoc basis, and the information that the FCC receives is too limited to be of use, according to Wheeler. In contrast, other communications providers — including wireline, wireless, and satellite — are required to report outages to the FCC’s Network Outage Reporting System (NORS).

Wheeler said that the FCC needs to get timely information about submarine cable outages, with enough detail to understand 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. More consistent reporting on submarine cable outages will improve the FCC’s ability to spot trends, address systemic issues and inform policy making.