1998 Biennial Regulatory Review-Review of Accounts Settlement in the Maritime Mobile and Maritime Mobile-Satellite Radio Services, 4269-4275 [2017-00597]

Download as PDF asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 9 / Friday, January 13, 2017 / Proposed Rules (v) Is there any means by which a member of the public could obtain access to the information? Is the information of a kind that you would customarily not release to the public? (vi) Has any governmental body made a determination as to the confidentiality of the information? If so, please attach a copy of the determination. (vii) For each item or category of information claimed as confidential, explain with specificity why release of the information is likely to cause substantial harm to your competitive position. Explain the specific nature of those harmful effects, why they should be viewed as substantial, and the causal relationship between disclosure and such harmful effects. How could your competitors make use of this information to your detriment? (viii) Do you assert that the information is submitted on a voluntary or a mandatory basis? Please explain the reason for your assertion. If you assert that the information is voluntarily submitted information, please explain whether the information is the kind that would customarily not be released to the public. (ix) Whether you assert the information as voluntary or involuntary, please address why disclosure of the information would tend to lessen the availability to the EPA of similar information in the future. (x) If you believe any information to be (a) trade secret(s), please so state and explain the reason for your belief. Please attach copies of those pages containing such information with brackets around the text that you claim to be (a) trade secret(s). (xi) Explain any other issue you deem relevant. (2) Identification of claims. If any of the information contained in the answers to the questions listed in paragraph (b)(1) of this section is asserted to be confidential, the submitter must clearly identify the information that is claimed as confidential by marking the specific information on each page with a label such as ‘‘confidential business information,’’ ‘‘proprietary,’’ or ‘‘trade secret.’’ (3) Certification statement for claims. In submitting a claim of confidentiality, a person must certify the truth of the following four statements concerning all information which is claimed as confidential: (i) My company has taken reasonable measures to protect the confidentiality of the information. (ii) I have determined that the information is not required to be VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:35 Jan 12, 2017 Jkt 241001 disclosed or otherwise made available to the public under any other Federal law. (iii) I have a reasonable basis to conclude that disclosure of the information is likely to cause substantial harm to the competitive position of the person. (iv) I have a reasonable basis to believe that the information is not readily discoverable through reverse engineering. § 710.39 Electronic filing. (a) EPA will accept information submitted under this subpart only if submitted in accordance with this section. All information must be submitted electronically to EPA via CDX. Prior to submission to EPA via CDX, Notices of Activity and any associated information must be generated and completed using the eNOA software module. (b) Obtain instructions for registering in CDX as follows: (1) Web site. The CDX Registration User Guide is available at https:// www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/ documents/cdx_registration_guide_v0_ 02.pdf. To register in CDX, go to https:// cdx.epa.gov and follow the appropriate links. (2) Telephone. Contact the EPA CDX Help Desk at 1–888–890–1995. (3) Email. Email the EPA CDX Help Desk at HelpDesk@epacdx.net. (c) Obtain instructions for using the eNOA software module as follows: (1) Web site. Go to the EPA New Chemicals under the Toxic Substances Control Act Web site at https:// www.epa.gov/reviewing-new-chemicalsunder-toxic-substances-control-act-tsca/ how-submit-e-pmn and follow the appropriate links. (2) Telephone. Contact the EPA TSCA Hotline at 1–202–554–1404. (3) Email. Email the EPA TSCA Hotline at TSCA-Hotline@epa.gov. [FR Doc. 2016–31923 Filed 1–12–17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560–50–P FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION 47 CFR Part 1 [IB Docket No. 98–96; FCC 16–179] 1998 Biennial Regulatory Review— Review of Accounts Settlement in the Maritime Mobile and Maritime MobileSatellite Radio Services Federal Communications Commission. ACTION: Notice of proposed rulemaking. AGENCY: In this document, the Federal Communications Commission SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00072 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 4269 (Commission) proposes to withdraw as an accounting authority and transition its functions and duties to private accounting authorities. The Commission seeks comment on a transition plan and a timetable to implement an orderly transition to the privatization of the accounts-settlement function. DATES: Comments due on or before March 14, 2017, and reply comments due on or before April 13, 2017. ADDRESSES: You may submit comments, identified by IB Docket 98–96, by any of the following methods: • Federal eRulemaking Portal: http:// www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments. • Federal Communications Commission’s Web site: http:// www.fcc.gov/cgb/ecfs. Follow the instructions for submitting comments. • People with Disabilities: Contact the FCC to request reasonable accommodations (accessible format documents, sign language interpreters, CART, etc.) by email: FCC504@fcc.gov or phone: 202–418–0530 or TTY: 202– 418–0432. • Email: ecfs@fcc.gov. Include IB Docket No. 98–96 in the subject line of the message. • Mail: Commercial overnight mail (other than U.S. Postal Service Express Mail, and Priority Mail, must be sent to 9300 East Hampton Drive, Capitol Heights, MD 20743. U.S. Postal Service first-class, Express, and Priority mail should be addressed to 445 12th Street SW., Washington, DC 20554. For detailed instructions for submitting comments and additional information on the rulemaking process, see the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section of this document. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Dana Shaffer, Office of Managing Director at (202) 418–0832. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: This is a summary of the Commission’s Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (Second FNPRM), FCC 16–179, IB Docket No. 98–96, adopted on December 22, 2016, and released on December 30, 2016. The full text of this document is available for inspection and copying during normal business hours in the FCC Reference Center, 445 12th Street SW., Room CY–A257, Portals II, Washington, DC 20554, and may also be purchased from the Commission’s copy contractor, BCPI, Inc., Portals II, 445 12th Street SW., Room CY–B402, Washington, DC 20554. Customers may contact BCPI, Inc. via their Web site, http://www.bcpi.com, or call 1–800– 378–3160. This document is available in alternative formats (computer diskette, large print, audio record, and braille). E:\FR\FM\13JAP1.SGM 13JAP1 4270 Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 9 / Friday, January 13, 2017 / Proposed Rules Persons with disabilities who need documents in these formats may contact the FCC by email: FCC504@fcc.gov or phone: 202–418–0530 or TTY: 202–418– 0432. I. Procedural Matters asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS A. Ex Parte Rules—Permit-But-Disclose 1. The proceeding this Second FNPRM initiates shall be treated as a ‘‘permit-but-disclose’’ proceeding in accordance with the Commission’s ex parte rules.1 Persons making ex parte presentations must file a copy of any written presentation or a memorandum summarizing any oral presentation within two business days after the presentation (unless a different deadline applicable to the Sunshine period applies). Persons making oral ex parte presentations are reminded that memoranda summarizing the presentation must (1) list all persons attending or otherwise participating in the meeting at which the ex parte presentation was made, and (2) summarize all data presented and arguments made during the presentation. If the presentation consisted in whole or in part of the presentation of data or arguments already reflected in the presenter’s written comments, memoranda or other filings in the proceeding, the presenter may provide citations to such data or arguments in his or her prior comments, memoranda, or other filings (specifying the relevant page and/or paragraph numbers where such data or arguments can be found) in lieu of summarizing them in the memorandum. Documents shown or given to Commission staff during ex parte meetings are deemed to be written ex parte presentations and must be filed consistent with rule 1.1206(b). In proceedings governed by rule 1.49(f) or for which the Commission has made available a method of electronic filing, written ex parte presentations and memoranda summarizing oral ex parte presentations, and all attachments thereto, must be filed through the electronic comment filing system available for that proceeding, and must be filed in their native format (e.g., .doc, .xml, .ppt, searchable .pdf). Participants in this proceeding should familiarize themselves with the Commission’s ex parte rules. B. Comment Period and Procedures 2. Pursuant to sections 1.415 and 1.419 of the Commission’s rules, 47 CFR 1.415, 1.419, interested parties may file comments and reply comments on or 1 47 CFR 1.1200 et seq. VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:35 Jan 12, 2017 before the dates indicated on the first page of this document. Comments may be filed using the Commission’s Electronic Comment Filing System (ECFS). See Electronic Filing of Documents in Rulemaking Proceedings, 63 FR 24121 (1998). D Electronic Filers: Comments may be filed electronically using the Internet by accessing the ECFS: http:// fjallfoss.fcc.gov/ecfs2/. D Paper Filers: Parties who choose to file by paper must file an original and one copy of each filing. If more than one docket or rulemaking number appears in the caption of this proceeding, filers must submit two additional copies for each additional docket or rulemaking number. Filings can be sent by hand or messenger delivery, by commercial overnight courier, or by first-class or overnight U.S. Postal Service mail. All filings must be addressed to the Commission’s Secretary, Office of the Secretary, Federal Communications Commission. D All hand-delivered or messengerdelivered paper filings for the Commission’s Secretary must be delivered to FCC Headquarters at 445 12th St. SW., Room TW–A325, Washington, DC 20554. The filing hours are 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. All hand deliveries must be held together with rubber bands or fasteners. Any envelopes and boxes must be disposed of before entering the building. D Commercial overnight mail (other than U.S. Postal Service Express Mail and Priority Mail) must be sent to 9300 East Hampton Drive, Capitol Heights, MD 20743. D U.S. Postal Service first-class, Express, and Priority mail must be addressed to 445 12th Street SW., Washington DC 20554. People with Disabilities: To request materials in accessible formats for people with disabilities (braille, large print, electronic files, audio format), send an email to fcc504@fcc.gov or call the Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau at 202–418–0530 (voice), 202– 418–0432 (tty). C. Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis 3. As required by the Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980 (RFA),2 the Commission has prepared an Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (IRFA) of the possible significant economic impact on small entities of the policies and rules proposed in this Second FNPRM. The IRFA is found near the end of this document. We request written public comment on the analysis. 2 See Jkt 241001 PO 00000 5 U.S.C. 603. Frm 00073 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 Comments must be filed in accordance with the same deadlines as comments filed in response to this Second FNPRM, and must have a separate and distinct heading designating them as responses to the IRFA. The Commission’s Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau, Reference Information Center, will send a copy of this Second FNPRM, including the IRFA, to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration. 4. Copies to Private Accounting Authorities and Governmental Users. The Commission’s Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau, Reference Information Center, shall send a copy of this Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, including the Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis, to the current U.S.-certified private accounting authorities: Mackay Communications, Inc., Astrium Services Business Communications Inc., Seven Seas Communications Inc., Omnet, Inc., KFS World Communications dba GLOBE WIRELESS, GMPCS Personal Communications, Inc., ShipCom, L.L.C. (formerly M M R Radio, L.L.C.), Stratos Mobile Networks Inc., Exxon Communications Company, Vizada, Inc., Raytheon Service Co., Telemar USA LLC, MVS USA Inc., A–N–D Group Plc, Selex ES Ltd, Selex ES Ltd, NSSLGlobal, Airtime Billing Department. D. Initial Paperwork Reduction Analysis 5. This document does not contain a proposed information collection(s) subject to the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (PRA, Pub. L. 104–13). In addition, therefore, it does not contain any new or modified information collection burden for small business concerns with fewer than 25 employees, pursuant to the Small Business Paperwork Relief Act of 2002, Public Law 107–198, see 44 U.S.C. 3506(c)(4). II. Introduction 6. In this Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (2016 Accounting Authority Second FNPRM), we propose to transition the functions and duties performed by the Commission as an accounting authority to private accounting authorities. In doing so, we seek to revisit findings in the 1999 Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (1999 Accounting Authority Order & FNPRM),3 which 3 1998 Biennial Regulatory Review—Review of Accounts Settlement in the Maritime Mobile and Maritime Mobile-Satellite Radio Services and Withdrawal of the Commission as an Accounting Authority in the Maritime Mobile and the Maritime Mobile-Satellite Radio Services, Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 15 E:\FR\FM\13JAP1.SGM 13JAP1 Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 9 / Friday, January 13, 2017 / Proposed Rules included the Commission’s decision that it should withdraw as an accounting authority in the maritime mobile and maritime mobile-satellite radio services.4 The Commission tentatively concluded that a three-year transition period following adoption of a Report and Order was appropriate to permit the preparation and implementation of a plan to ensure a smooth, non-disruptive transition to private accounting authorities, and to develop the transition plan.5 Although in that Order the Commission concluded that ‘‘the Commission shall cease operating as an accounting authority for settling accounts for maritime mobile, maritime satellite, aircraft,6 and handled terminal radio services,’’ and that ‘‘a transition period is necessary to allow for an orderly transition to a full privatization of the accounts-settlement function,’’ we stopped short of proscribing a transition plan, instead seeking further comment ‘‘on a number of proposals regarding how best to implement this transition.’’ 7 7. The completion of a plan based on those comments, however, was subsequently delayed. Thus, no definitive timeline for the transition to implement our decision in the Order to withdraw as accounting authority has been established. 8. We continue to believe that it is in the public interest for the Commission to withdraw as an accounting authority. Given the passage of time, we now, in this 2016 Accounting Authority Second FNPRM, seek further comment on the appropriate transition plan and period to implement our decision in the 1999 Accounting Authority Order & FNPRM to withdraw as an accounting authority in the maritime mobile and maritime mobile-satellite radio services. asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS III. Background 9. International maritime mobile communications are HF or VHF radio communications between a ship and a coast station operated by the telecommunications operator in the country in which the station is located, and international maritime mobileFCC Rcd 20703 (1999) (1999 Accounting Authority Order & FNPRM). 4 Id. 5 Id. at 20717. 6 The focus of this FNPRM is the effect on maritime communications, as the Commission has not, for several years, settled aeronautical accounts. It is important to note, however, that our withdrawal as accounting authority of last resort would include a cessation in our settling of accounts for maritime mobile, maritime satellite, aircraft, and handled terminal radio services, as we previously concluded. 7 Id. VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:35 Jan 12, 2017 Jkt 241001 satellite communications services are conducted by satellite. Payment for the services provided by the telecommunications operators involves interaction with an entity known as an ‘‘accounting authority,’’ which settles an account between the telecommunications operator and the customer. In practice, the telecommunications operator, the earth or coast station, sends its bill either to the accounting authority that the customer has designated to act for it or to an ‘‘accounting authority of last resort,’’ which, as the name implies, settles accounts for customers that have not designated a particular accounting authority. The function of the accounting authority, also referred to as a ‘‘clearinghouse’’ or ‘‘settlement authority,’’ involves presenting the bill to the customer, accepting payment from the customer, and remitting the collected funds to the telecommunications operator. 10. Historically, most nations required individual ships to settle their accounts with their telecommunications provider; however, since 1934, the Commission has acted as an accounting authority in the United States, to settle accounts for maritime, aircraft, and hand-held terminal radio services to both private users and other U.S. federal government agencies. Over time, the Commission has reduced its accounting authority or clearinghouse function related to the maritime mobile radio services and the satellite-based services, including aeronautical and hand-held terminals. The primary reason for this reduction is that private accounting authorities provide similar account settlement services for U.S. users. Certification and operation of private accounting authorities are governed under part 3 of our rules, which ensure that qualified applicants are authorized as accounting authorities and that such authorities, once approved, have adequate guidance of the standard of conduct required of them by the Commission. We believe that this process has been working effectively.8 Currently, there are twentytwo entities certified as U.S. private accounting authorities.9 8 See Letter from Bruce Henoch, Inmarsat, to Accounting Authority Certification Office, Federal Communications Commission (dated April 20, 2015); Letter from Robert Swanson, Airbus Defense and Space, to Marlene Dortch, Federal Communications Commission (dated January 30, 2015); Letter from Steven Chernoff, Lukas, Nace, Gutierrez, and Sachs, LLP, to Accounting Authority Certification Officer, Federal Communications Commission (April 15, 2015) (providing inventories of accounting authority settlements). 9 Some of these private accounting authorities may not currently settle accounts for maritime services; however, our certification does not limit PO 00000 Frm 00074 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 4271 11. When the Commission last considered this matter more than fifteen years ago, it found no public policy reason for the Commission’s continued function as an accounting authority,10 and concluded in the Report and Order section of the decision, therefore, that the Commission should withdraw as a clearinghouse for the settlement of accounts in the maritime mobile radio, maritime mobile-satellite, and other satellite-based communications services.11 The Commission tentatively concluded that it should not designate a new accounting authority of last resort,12 and that a three year transition plan was sufficient to ensure a smooth transition.13 The Commission sought further comment on these tentative conclusions.14 IV. Discussion 12. In the Order portion of the 1999 R&O and FNPRM, the Commission announced its decision to withdraw from the accounting authority function. Additionally, it revised section 3.10(e) to make explicit the authorities’ obligations not to discriminate,15 grandfathered the accounting authority of EXXON to permit it to continue to settle accounts only for its ships, and provided guidance to allow applicants to amend their pending applications in light of the change to section 3.10(e). In the Second FNPRM, the Commission requested comments on two issues. First, the Commission sought comment on whether to appoint or allow an entity to take over the Commission’s function as the accounting authority of last resort, require customers to presubscribe to an accounting authority or to designate an accounting authority on every message, or to develop a formula to spread undesignated messages among several private accounting authorities. Second, the Commission tentatively concluded that the appropriate phaseout period was three years following Federal Register publication of a final order, and invited comment. A. Withdrawal by the Commission From the Accounting Authority Function 13. In the 1999 R&O and FNPRM, the Commission decided to withdraw from performing the functions of an accounting authority, and to leave the settlement of accounts to the private any certified U.S. accounting authority to the settlement of accounts for only one class of service. 10 1999 Accounting Authority Order & FNPRM at 20709. 11 Id. at 20723. 12 Id. at 20715. 13 Id. at 20718. 14 Id. at 20715, 20723. 15 47 CFR 3.10(e). E:\FR\FM\13JAP1.SGM 13JAP1 4272 Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 9 / Friday, January 13, 2017 / Proposed Rules asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS accounting authorities subject to part 3 of our rules. Although the Commission never implemented a transition plan, many users of the Commission’s services subsequently have transitioned to one of these accounting authorities. We continue to believe that it is in the public interest for the Commission to withdraw as an accounting authority and seek comment on our proposals to do so below. The function of an accounting authority is not necessarily a governmental function, but can be performed equally well by privately owned entities, subject to Commission oversight under our part 3 rules.16 Since the Commission last visited this issue, U.S. private accounting authorities have continued to succeed in providing these functions.17 We anticipate that our action to step away from the functions of an accounting authority will create further competition for the settlement of maritime and satellite accounts, and may thereby encourage the industry to provide the public with more choices in obtaining settlement of their accounts. 14. Since 1999, the number of users relying on the Commission to provide accounting authority services has decreased,18 even as the activity handled by other accounting authorities, in general, appears to have increased in scope. We recognize that an immediate departure of the Commission as an accounting authority will require those U.S. international ship and satellite operators currently handled by the Commission to select an alternative accounting authority. We also believe, unlike in 1999 when we suggested a three-year transition period, that maritime operators are far better prepared to adjust to the departure of the Commission as the accounting authority. First, the Commission possesses the ability to contact current users and thereby their expedite transition. Second, through outreach and coordination with the maritime industry, Commission staff have learned that many of those entities using the 16 The FCC’s withdrawal as an accounting authority will in no way change the rules by which we certify and monitor private entities serving as accounting authorities for maritime mobile and maritime satellite services. See 47 CFR 3.1 et seq. 17 See 1999 R&O and FNPRM, 15 FCC Rcd at 20706–09, paragraphs 7–12; See Letter from Bruce Henoch, Inmarsat, to Accounting Authority Certification Office, Federal Communications Commission (dated April 20, 2015); Letter from Robert Swanson, Airbus Defense and Space, to Marlene Dortch, Federal Communications Commission (dated January 30, 2015); Letter from Steven Chernoff, Lukas, Nace, Gutierrez, and Sachs, LLP, to Accounting Authority Certification Officer, Federal Communications Commission (dated April 15, 2015) (providing inventories of accounting authority settlements). 18 See supra n.5. VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:35 Jan 12, 2017 Jkt 241001 Commission’s accounting authority services have anticipated the change, and they have initiated a transition process in contracting with other accounting authorities. Consequently, we believe that most maritime mobile satellite users will be able to accommodate this change, and that they will act promptly to select an alternative accounting authority. We therefore, recommend a one year transition period and seek comment on this recommendation. 15. We continue to believe that we should not designate a new accounting authority of last resort, but, rather, customers should designate an accounting authority for each call or should presubscribe for the services of an accounting authority.19 We seek further comment on this tentative conclusion. B. Government Agencies 16. In the 1999 R&O and FNPRM we acknowledged that the Commission at that time acted as the accounting authority for the maritime and satellite communications of a majority of U.S. governmental agencies.20 At the time, because we anticipated that Government agency users might have special needs that differ from other users, we requested the agencies to address this issue in their comments.21 17. In their 1998 comments, the United States Coast Guard urged the Commission to maintain a default accounting authority, provide ample notice to affected users and small vessel organizations, provide a smooth transition process to a new default accounting authority, and ensure the economic impact on small entities is non-significant.22 The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), in coordination with the Interdepartment Radio Advisory Committee (which includes the Coast Guard), expressed concern that the Commission’s withdrawal might lead to disruption or curtailment of communication services to federal users, as well as increased cost to the taxpayer.23 They requested that the FCC retain its accounting authority, or, in the alternative, noted that most government agencies operate on a three year budget 19 See id. at 20715 (tentatively concluding not to designate a new accounting authority of last resort). 20 See 1999 R&O and FNPRM, 15 FCC Rcd at 20709, para. 13. 21 See 1999 R&O and FNPRM, 15 FCC Rcd at 20709, para. 13. 22 Letter from J.D. Hersey, Jr., Chief, Spectrum Management Division, to Magalie Roman Salas, FCC Secretary, August 21, 1998. 23 See Comments of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, filed August 24, 1998, at page 2. PO 00000 Frm 00075 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 cycle, and asked that the FCC defer termination of its accounting authority responsibility ‘‘until an [sic] alternative billing and payment arrangements ensuring uninterrupted service can be established.24 NTIA further urged that the FCC either retain its accounting authority, or designate an authority of last resort that would ‘‘not charge more than the Commission currently charges its accounts until users are notified and given a chance to select their own accounting authority or accept the terms offered.’’ 25 18. We agree that, as part of an effective plan for the Commission to withdraw as an accounting authority, U.S. Government agencies must have in place alternate arrangements upon the Commission’s withdrawal to ensure that critical communications are not disrupted. In the more than fifteen years, since our 1999 decision, Commission staff have contacted the various government agencies informing them of the Commission’s intent to terminate its accounting authority; as a result, many of these various agencies, have moved to alternative accounting authorities for some or all of their services.26 In light of this trend, and the more than fifteen years impacted entities have had to transition to a new accounting authority, we seek comment on the appropriate time period to complete the Commission’s transition from serving as accounting authority for government agencies. Movement of government agencies anticipating our change in function suggests that a transition period shorter than the threeyear period previously proposed is appropriate to accommodate these particular changes, including anticipated government budget planning changes. We propose that the transition period for government and nongovernment entities be the same. We seek comment on whether one year suffices for government agencies to transition to an alternative accounting authority. Alternatively, we invite comment on whether this period should be longer or shorter. C. Accounting Authority of Last Resort 19. The Commission historically has served as the ‘‘accounting authority of last resort’’ for the United States, which resulted in the Commission receiving from foreign telecommunications 24 Id. 25 Letter from William T. Hatch, Acting Associate Administrator, National Telecommunications and Information Administration, to Magalie Roman Salas, FCC Secretary, October 29, 1998. 26 Commission staff have confirmed the removal of many of the terminals once billed to these agencies from the FCC as the accounting authority. E:\FR\FM\13JAP1.SGM 13JAP1 Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 9 / Friday, January 13, 2017 / Proposed Rules operators all accounts for which the customer did not designate a specific accounting authority.27 In 1999, we tentatively concluded that we should not designate a new accounting authority of last resort.28 Instead, we found that customers should designate an accounting authority for each call or should presubscribe for the services of an accounting authority.29 We noted, however, that in order to prevent a deleterious effect on safety communications, the Commission must take care to ensure a seamless transition to new accounting authorities.30 20. We continue to believe that, although the functions of an accounting authority of last resort may still be necessary to address infrequent situations where an authority is or cannot be designated due to circumstances beyond the control of the user, it remains the basic responsibility of the user, whether a private or governmental entity, to provide for an accounting authority to handle its calls. However, as we withdraw as an accounting authority, we tentatively conclude, based on the commenters’ urging us, in 1998, to either retain our accounting authority or ensure an alternative is in place before withdrawing,31 that it will be necessary to have an alternative arrangement in place that will eliminate the possibility of messages being sent without having an accounting authority necessary to settle accounts. We seek comment on possible approaches to ensure an alternative is in place: (1) Requiring all customers to pre-subscribe to an accounting authority or to designate an accounting authority on every message; (2) developing a formula to spread undesignated messages among several private accounting authorities; and/or (3) appointing through comparative selection one of the private accounting authorities as the new authority of last resort. asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS Table 1—Government Agencies Who Use the Commission as an Accounting Authority Defense Information Systems Agency 27 See 1999 R&O and FNPRM, 15 FCC Rcd at 20715, paragraph 25. 28 Id. at para. 26. 29 Id. 30 Id. at para. 27 (citing Coast Guard Comments at 1). 31 Letter from J.D. Hersey, Jr., Chief, Spectrum Management Division, to Magalie Roman Salas, FCC Secretary, August 21, 1998. See, also Comments of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, filed August 24, 1998, at page 2 and Letter from William T. Hatch, Acting Associate Administrator, National Telecommunications and Information Administration, to Magalie Roman Salas, FCC Secretary, October 29, 1998. VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:35 Jan 12, 2017 Jkt 241001 Department of Agriculture Department of Air Force Department of the Army Department of Commerce Department of Defense—Office of Secretary of Defense Department of Energy Department of Health and Human Services Department of Homeland Security— United States Coast Guard Department of Justice Department of Justice—Federal Bureau of Investigation Department of Justice—U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration Department of the Interior Department of the Navy Department of State Department of Transportation Department of Treasury Department of Veteran Affairs Federal Aviation Administration Federal Emergency Management Agency National Aeronautics and Space Administration National Science Foundation On-Site Inspection Agency U.S. Environmental Protection Agency U.S. General Services Administration United States Information Agency U.S. Postal Service 21. Given the reduction of reliance on the FCC as an accounting authority and the resulting lower volume of customers 32 who will be affected when we withdraw as accounting authority (see Table 1 above), we tentatively conclude that the best alternative is the first option noted above, to require all customers to pre-subscribe to an accounting authority or to designate an accounting authority on every message. We seek comment on this tentative conclusion as well as the merits of each of the three proposals. For example, is it technically feasible, for U.S. maritime and satellite radio traffic for which no accounting authority is designated and for which the customer is not able or willing to designate an accounting authority on every message, to allow the provider to bill for such traffic through a certified accounting authority of its choice? Is this feasible for a ship-toshore radiotelephone call made through a foreign coast station? In the alternative, is it feasible to allow public coast stations to designate their own 32 We note that, for 2016, traffic billed by the FCC as accounting authority to private and/or third parties is exclusively satellite traffic, and ask commenters to address whether that fact, coupled with the potential to allow providers to choose a U.S. accounting authority to bill traffic for which no accounting authority has been designated by the customer, mitigates any concerns regarding a potential gap in service once the FCC withdraws as accounting authority of last resort. PO 00000 Frm 00076 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 4273 ‘‘default’’ accounting authority in order to send bills to mariners who have not chosen/designated a private accounting authority? 33 Is there a need for the Commission to adopt additional qualifying criteria for an existing accounting authority to serve as a designated accounting authority of last resort? If so, what should the additional criteria be? We also seek comment on any potential enforcement or authority issues that may arise from each of the proposed alternatives for providing an accounting authority of last resort. We also request that commenting parties propose any other viable alternatives that help ensure a smooth transition while relieving the Commission from performing this function. 22. We note that withdrawal of the Commission as an accounting authority without an effective transition plan could leave a gap for some U.S. maritime and satellite radio traffic for which no accounting authority is designated. Thus, during any transition period and subsequently, we intend to conduct outreach to make users aware of our decision and their options for ensuring that they continue to receive the services of an accounting authority. 23. In any event, we believe that an accounting authority, whether selected by the ship, the provider, or a competent default accounting authority, must be in place for distress and safety telecommunications on board ships, particularly when a maritime mobile satellite system is being used. We therefore seek comment on whether, if we decline to designate an accounting authority, we should designate an accounting authority of last resort specifically for Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS) mobile satellite communications.34 Although maritime distress and certain safety communications are provided at no charge, other types of safety communications do incur a charge. If neither the designated nor a competent default accounting authority exists, then foreign earth stations may have no way to bill the U.S. satellite user. As a result, the user may, through no fault of its 33 There are few users of maritime public coast stations now due to the closure worldwide of public coast stations; however, ensuring the safety of such users is important. We, therefore, seek comment on what different approaches may be necessary for radio communications via a foreign public coast station versus satellite communications via a mobile satellite communications provider. 34 INMARSAT continues to be the only worldwide maritime mobile satellite system providing these safety communications. INMARSAT will commission a new ship terminal intended to carry distress and safety communications only if the application designates an accounting authority. E:\FR\FM\13JAP1.SGM 13JAP1 asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS 4274 Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 9 / Friday, January 13, 2017 / Proposed Rules own, find that its ship earth station has been barred for non-payment of bills. We understand that, although a ship mobile device has been ‘‘barred’’ from the network provider (e.g., foreign earth station), a ship can still initiate a shipto-shore distress alert. In such a situation, however, it could not communicate further with the Coast Guard, even if those further communications are safety related. A ship on the high seas that has been barred from such communications may be a danger to itself and others, as well as a potential problem for the Coast Guard. We agree with commenters that any change in accounting authorities must ensure that critical communications are not disrupted. First, during any transition period that we adopt, we will notify users of GMDSS mobile satellite communications of our decision to withdraw as an accounting authority and of their need to select a new accounting authority. Moreover, we seek comment, not only on designation of an accounting authority of last resort for all users, including GMDSS mobile satellite and GMDSS maritime mobile communications, but also on whether there are other options to ensure that the Commission’s withdrawal as accounting authority would not cause ship stations to become barred because they were unaware that they need to choose a new accounting authority. 24. We also invite comment whether advancements in technology and the business community could reduce the burdens associated with our proposal to withdraw as accounting authority of last resort. Technological changes may mitigate concerns that stem from the fact that the Commission’s service as the accounting authority of last resort has made it unnecessary for users to be aware that they may select a private accounting authority. We can promptly notify users which relied on the Commission as accounting authority of last resort for the need to select an alternative accounting authority. In doing so, we seek comment on notifying users from the past seven years. Alternatively, should we make the period of users which relied on the Commission as carrier of last resort shorter or longer? In addition, the Commission could review on a periodic basis the plan it adopts to ensure that the need for accounting authority services is being met, including distress and safety communications on board ships, and determine whether further modifications are appropriate. VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:35 Jan 12, 2017 Jkt 241001 Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis 1. As required by the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA),35 the Commission prepared this Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (IRFA) of the possible significant economic impact on small entities by the policies and rules proposed in this Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (Second FNPRM). Written comments are requested on this IRFA. Comments must be identified as responses to the IRFA and must be filed by the deadline for comments on this Second FNPRM. The Commission will send a copy of this Second FNPRM, including the IRFA, to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration (SBA).36 In addition, this Second FNPRM and IRFA (or summaries thereof) will be published in the Federal Register.37 A. Need for and Objectives of, the Notice 2. In this Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (Second FNPRM), we propose to transition the functions and duties performed by the Commission as an accounting authority to private accounting authorities. In doing so, we seek to revisit findings in the 1999 Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (1999 Accounting Authority Order & FNPRM),38 which included the Commission’s decision that it should withdraw as an accounting authority in the maritime mobile and maritime mobile-satellite radio services. The Commission tentatively concluded that a three-year transition period following adoption of a Report and Order was appropriate to permit the preparation and implementation of a plan to ensure a smooth, non-disruptive transition to private accounting authorities, and to develop the transition plan.39 The 35 5 U.S.C. 603. The RFA, 5 U.S.C. 601–612 has been amended by the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996 (SBREFA), Public Law 104–121, Title II, 110 Stat. 847 (1996). 36 5 U.S.C. 603(a). 37 Id. 38 1998 Biennial Regulatory Review—Review of Accounts Settlement in the Maritime Mobile and Maritime Mobile-Satellite Radio Services and Withdrawal of the Commission as an Accounting Authority in the Maritime Mobile and the Maritime Mobile-Satellite Radio Services, Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 15 FCC Rcd 20703 (1999) (1999 R&O and FNPRM). The Commission as part of its Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking sought comments to be filed by comments August 23, 1999, and replies by September 8, 1999. 39 1998 Biennial Regulatory Review—Review of Accounts Settlement in the Maritime Mobile and Maritime Mobile-Satellite Radio Services and Withdrawal of the Commission as an Accounting Authority in the Maritime Mobile and the Maritime Mobile-Satellite Radio Services, Order, 14 FCC Rcd 13504 (1999). The order extended the deadline for PO 00000 Frm 00077 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 completion of the plan was subsequently delayed and until now, the proceeding has been inactive. 3. In this 2016 Accounting Authority Second FNPRM, we now seek comment on whether the findings in the 1999 Accounting Authority Order & FNPRM remain in the public interest. As such, we seek input on whether the Commission should withdraw as an accounting authority in the maritime mobile and maritime mobile-satellite radio services. In doing so, we seek information on whether interested parties continue to support the Commission’s 1999 decision and if not, why that decision should be revisited or amended. B. Legal Basis 4. This Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking is adopted pursuant to Sections 1, 4(i), 4(j), 11, 201–205, 303(r) of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C. 151, 154(i), 161, 201–205, and 303(r). C. Description and Estimate of the Number of Small Entities To Which the Rules Will Apply 5. The RFA directs agencies to provide a description of, and where feasible, an estimate of the number of small entities that may be affected by the proposed rules and policies, if adopted.40 The RFA generally defines the term ‘‘small entity’’ as having the same meaning as the terms ‘‘small business,’’ ‘‘small organization,’’ and ‘‘small governmental jurisdiction.’’ 41 In addition, the term ‘‘small business’’ has the same meaning as the term ‘‘small business concern’’ under the Small Business Act.42 A ‘‘small business concern’’ is one which: (1) Is independently owned and operated; (2) is not dominant in its field of operation; and (3) satisfies any additional criteria established by the SBA.43 6. The rules proposed in this Second Notice of Proposed Rulemaking apply to entities providing account-settlement services for maritime mobile and maritime mobile-satellite radio services. filing comments to October 25, 1999 and reply comments to November 29, 1999. The extension of time was made to allow for a fuller record. 40 5 U.S.C. 603(b)(3). 41 5 U.S.C. 601(6). 42 5 U.S.C. 601(3) (incorporating by reference the definition of ‘‘small-business concern’’ in the Small Business Act, 15 U.S.C. 632). Pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 601(3), the statutory definition of a small business applies ‘‘unless an agency, after consultation with the Office of Advocacy of the Small Business Administration and after opportunity for public comment, establishes one or more definitions of such term which are appropriate to the activities of the agency and publishes such definition(s) in the Federal Register.’’ 43 15 U.S.C. 632. E:\FR\FM\13JAP1.SGM 13JAP1 Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 9 / Friday, January 13, 2017 / Proposed Rules Small businesses may be able to become accounting clearinghouses, as the establishment of such a function does not appear to involve high implementation costs. The rules also apply to existing maritime mobile and maritime satellite customers who have not presubscribed to a U.S. accounting authority and are, therefore, billed through the FCC as the accounting authority of last resort. An estimated thirty small entities have been billed for traffic by the FCC as an accounting authority in 2016. The proposed action in this Second Notice of Proposed Rulemaking does not appear to involve high implementation costs for such entities. D. Reporting, Recordkeeping, and Other Compliance Requirements 7. The proposed action in this Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking would affect those entities already certified and those applying for certification as a private accounting authority in the maritime mobile, maritime mobile-satellite, aeronautical and other satellite-based radio services. The amended rule, however, merely clarifies an existing requirement imposed on accounting authorities. It, therefore, does not alter the reporting, recordkeeping or other compliance requirements of certified accounting authorities. F. Federal Rules That Overlap, Duplicate or Conflict With These Proposed Requirements 9. None. V. Ordering Clauses 10. It is ordered that pursuant to sections 4(i), 4(j), 11, 201–205 and 303(r) of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C. 154(i), 154(j), 161, 201–205 and 303(r), this Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking is adopted. 11. It is further ordered that the Commission’s Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau, Reference Information Center, shall send a copy of this Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, including the Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis, to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration. Federal Communications Commission. Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary. [FR Doc. 2017–00597 Filed 1–12–17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6712–01–P FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION 47 CFR Part 54 [WC Docket No. 10–90; FCC 16–178] Connect America Fund Federal Communications Commission. ACTION: Proposed rule. AGENCY: 8. As stated above, we propose to transition the functions and duties performed by the Commission as an accounting authority to private accounting authorities. In doing so, we seek to revisit findings in 1999 Accounting Authority Order & FNPRM),44 which included the Commission’s decision that it should withdraw as an accounting authority in the maritime mobile and maritime mobile-satellite radio services. We seek comment on the impact of our proposals on small entities and on any possible alternatives that could minimize the impact of our rules on small entities. asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS E. Steps Taken To Minimize Significant Economic Impact on Small Entities and Significant Alternatives Considered SUMMARY: 44 1998 Biennial Regulatory Review—Review of Accounts Settlement in the Maritime Mobile and Maritime Mobile-Satellite Radio Services and Withdrawal of the Commission as an Accounting Authority in the Maritime Mobile and the Maritime Mobile-Satellite Radio Services, Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 15 FCC Rcd 20703 (1999) (1999 R&O and FNPRM). The Commission as part of its Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking sought comments to be filed by comments August 23, 1999, and replies by September 8, 1999. VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:35 Jan 12, 2017 Jkt 241001 In this document, the Federal Communications Commission (Commission) seeks comment on whether to expand the Alternative Connect America Cost Model (A–CAM) budget for rate-of-return carriers to provide additional funding with an associated increase in broadband deployment obligations. DATES: Comments are due on or before February 13, 2017 and reply comments are due on or before February 27, 2017. If you anticipate that you will be submitting comments, but find it difficult to do so within the period of time allowed by this document, you should advise the contact listed below as soon as possible. ADDRESSES: You may submit comments, identified by WC Docket No. 10–90, by any of the following methods: • Federal eRulemaking Portal: http:// www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments. • Federal Communications Commission’s Web site: http:// fjallfoss.fcc.gov/ecfs2/. Electronic Filers: PO 00000 Frm 00078 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 4275 Comments may be filed electronically using the Internet by accessing the ECFS: http://fjallfoss.fcc.gov/ecfs2/. D Paper Filers: Parties who choose to file by paper must file an original and one copy of each filing. Because more than one docket number appears in the caption of this proceeding, filers must submit two additional copies for each additional docket number. • Filings can be sent by hand or messenger delivery, by commercial overnight courier, or by first-class or overnight U.S. Postal Service mail. All filings must be addressed to the Commission’s Secretary, Office of the Secretary, Federal Communications Commission. Æ All hand-delivered or messengerdelivered paper filings for the Commission’s Secretary must be delivered to FCC Headquarters at 445 12th St. SW., Room TW–A325, Washington, DC 20554. The filing hours are 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. All hand deliveries must be held together with rubber bands or fasteners. Any envelopes and boxes must be disposed of before entering the building. D Commercial overnight mail (other than U.S. Postal Service Express Mail and Priority Mail) must be sent to 9300 East Hampton Drive, Capitol Heights, MD 20743. D U.S. Postal Service first-class, Express, and Priority mail must be addressed to 445 12th St. SW., Washington, DC 20554. • People with Disabilities: Contact the FCC to request reasonable accommodations (accessible format documents, sign language interpreters, CART, etc.) by email: FCC504@fcc.gov or phone: (202) 418–0530 or TTY: (202) 418–0432. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Alexander Minard, Wireline Competition Bureau, (202) 418–7400 or TTY: (202) 418–0484. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: This is a synopsis of the Commission’s Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FNPRM) in WC Docket No. 10–90; FCC 16–178, adopted on December 19, 2016 and released on December 20, 2016. The full text of this document is available for public inspection during regular business hours in the FCC Reference Center, Room CY–A257, 445 12th St. SW., Washington, DC 20554 or at the following Internet address: http:// transition.fcc.gov/Daily_Releases/Daily_ Business/2016/db1220/FCC-16178A1.pdf. I. Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking 1. In this Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, the Commission seeks E:\FR\FM\13JAP1.SGM 13JAP1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 82, Number 9 (Friday, January 13, 2017)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 4269-4275]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2017-00597]


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FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION

47 CFR Part 1

[IB Docket No. 98-96; FCC 16-179]


1998 Biennial Regulatory Review--Review of Accounts Settlement in 
the Maritime Mobile and Maritime Mobile-Satellite Radio Services

AGENCY: Federal Communications Commission.

ACTION: Notice of proposed rulemaking.

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SUMMARY: In this document, the Federal Communications Commission 
(Commission) proposes to withdraw as an accounting authority and 
transition its functions and duties to private accounting authorities. 
The Commission seeks comment on a transition plan and a timetable to 
implement an orderly transition to the privatization of the accounts-
settlement function.

DATES: Comments due on or before March 14, 2017, and reply comments due 
on or before April 13, 2017.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments, identified by IB Docket 98-96, by 
any of the following methods:
     Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. 
Follow the instructions for submitting comments.
     Federal Communications Commission's Web site: http://www.fcc.gov/cgb/ecfs. Follow the instructions for submitting comments.
     People with Disabilities: Contact the FCC to request 
reasonable accommodations (accessible format documents, sign language 
interpreters, CART, etc.) by email: FCC504@fcc.gov or phone: 202-418-
0530 or TTY: 202-418-0432.
     Email: ecfs@fcc.gov. Include IB Docket No. 98-96 in the 
subject line of the message.
     Mail: Commercial overnight mail (other than U.S. Postal 
Service Express Mail, and Priority Mail, must be sent to 9300 East 
Hampton Drive, Capitol Heights, MD 20743. U.S. Postal Service first-
class, Express, and Priority mail should be addressed to 445 12th 
Street SW., Washington, DC 20554.
    For detailed instructions for submitting comments and additional 
information on the rulemaking process, see the SUPPLEMENTARY 
INFORMATION section of this document.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Dana Shaffer, Office of Managing 
Director at (202) 418-0832.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: This is a summary of the Commission's Second 
Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (Second FNPRM), FCC 16-179, IB 
Docket No. 98-96, adopted on December 22, 2016, and released on 
December 30, 2016. The full text of this document is available for 
inspection and copying during normal business hours in the FCC 
Reference Center, 445 12th Street SW., Room CY-A257, Portals II, 
Washington, DC 20554, and may also be purchased from the Commission's 
copy contractor, BCPI, Inc., Portals II, 445 12th Street SW., Room CY-
B402, Washington, DC 20554. Customers may contact BCPI, Inc. via their 
Web site, http://www.bcpi.com, or call 1-800-378-3160. This document is 
available in alternative formats (computer diskette, large print, audio 
record, and braille).

[[Page 4270]]

Persons with disabilities who need documents in these formats may 
contact the FCC by email: FCC504@fcc.gov or phone: 202-418-0530 or TTY: 
202-418-0432.

I. Procedural Matters

A. Ex Parte Rules--Permit-But-Disclose

    1. The proceeding this Second FNPRM initiates shall be treated as a 
``permit-but-disclose'' proceeding in accordance with the Commission's 
ex parte rules.\1\ Persons making ex parte presentations must file a 
copy of any written presentation or a memorandum summarizing any oral 
presentation within two business days after the presentation (unless a 
different deadline applicable to the Sunshine period applies). Persons 
making oral ex parte presentations are reminded that memoranda 
summarizing the presentation must (1) list all persons attending or 
otherwise participating in the meeting at which the ex parte 
presentation was made, and (2) summarize all data presented and 
arguments made during the presentation. If the presentation consisted 
in whole or in part of the presentation of data or arguments already 
reflected in the presenter's written comments, memoranda or other 
filings in the proceeding, the presenter may provide citations to such 
data or arguments in his or her prior comments, memoranda, or other 
filings (specifying the relevant page and/or paragraph numbers where 
such data or arguments can be found) in lieu of summarizing them in the 
memorandum. Documents shown or given to Commission staff during ex 
parte meetings are deemed to be written ex parte presentations and must 
be filed consistent with rule 1.1206(b). In proceedings governed by 
rule 1.49(f) or for which the Commission has made available a method of 
electronic filing, written ex parte presentations and memoranda 
summarizing oral ex parte presentations, and all attachments thereto, 
must be filed through the electronic comment filing system available 
for that proceeding, and must be filed in their native format (e.g., 
.doc, .xml, .ppt, searchable .pdf). Participants in this proceeding 
should familiarize themselves with the Commission's ex parte rules.
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    \1\ 47 CFR 1.1200 et seq.
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B. Comment Period and Procedures

    2. Pursuant to sections 1.415 and 1.419 of the Commission's rules, 
47 CFR 1.415, 1.419, interested parties may file comments and reply 
comments on or before the dates indicated on the first page of this 
document. Comments may be filed using the Commission's Electronic 
Comment Filing System (ECFS). See Electronic Filing of Documents in 
Rulemaking Proceedings, 63 FR 24121 (1998).
    [ssquf] Electronic Filers: Comments may be filed electronically 
using the Internet by accessing the ECFS: http://fjallfoss.fcc.gov/ecfs2/.
    [ssquf] Paper Filers: Parties who choose to file by paper must file 
an original and one copy of each filing. If more than one docket or 
rulemaking number appears in the caption of this proceeding, filers 
must submit two additional copies for each additional docket or 
rulemaking number.
    Filings can be sent by hand or messenger delivery, by commercial 
overnight courier, or by first-class or overnight U.S. Postal Service 
mail. All filings must be addressed to the Commission's Secretary, 
Office of the Secretary, Federal Communications Commission.
    [ssquf] All hand-delivered or messenger-delivered paper filings for 
the Commission's Secretary must be delivered to FCC Headquarters at 445 
12th St. SW., Room TW-A325, Washington, DC 20554. The filing hours are 
8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. All hand deliveries must be held together with 
rubber bands or fasteners. Any envelopes and boxes must be disposed of 
before entering the building.
    [ssquf] Commercial overnight mail (other than U.S. Postal Service 
Express Mail and Priority Mail) must be sent to 9300 East Hampton 
Drive, Capitol Heights, MD 20743.
    [ssquf] U.S. Postal Service first-class, Express, and Priority mail 
must be addressed to 445 12th Street SW., Washington DC 20554.
    People with Disabilities: To request materials in accessible 
formats for people with disabilities (braille, large print, electronic 
files, audio format), send an email to fcc504@fcc.gov or call the 
Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau at 202-418-0530 (voice), 202-
418-0432 (tty).

C. Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis

    3. As required by the Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980 (RFA),\2\ 
the Commission has prepared an Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis 
(IRFA) of the possible significant economic impact on small entities of 
the policies and rules proposed in this Second FNPRM. The IRFA is found 
near the end of this document. We request written public comment on the 
analysis. Comments must be filed in accordance with the same deadlines 
as comments filed in response to this Second FNPRM, and must have a 
separate and distinct heading designating them as responses to the 
IRFA. The Commission's Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau, 
Reference Information Center, will send a copy of this Second FNPRM, 
including the IRFA, to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small 
Business Administration.
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    \2\ See 5 U.S.C. 603.
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    4. Copies to Private Accounting Authorities and Governmental Users. 
The Commission's Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau, Reference 
Information Center, shall send a copy of this Second Further Notice of 
Proposed Rulemaking, including the Initial Regulatory Flexibility 
Analysis, to the current U.S.-certified private accounting authorities: 
Mackay Communications, Inc., Astrium Services Business Communications 
Inc., Seven Seas Communications Inc., Omnet, Inc., KFS World 
Communications dba GLOBE WIRELESS, GMPCS Personal Communications, Inc., 
ShipCom, L.L.C. (formerly M M R Radio, L.L.C.), Stratos Mobile Networks 
Inc., Exxon Communications Company, Vizada, Inc., Raytheon Service Co., 
Telemar USA LLC, MVS USA Inc., A-N-D Group Plc, Selex ES Ltd, Selex ES 
Ltd, NSSLGlobal, Airtime Billing Department.

D. Initial Paperwork Reduction Analysis

    5. This document does not contain a proposed information 
collection(s) subject to the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (PRA, Pub. 
L. 104-13). In addition, therefore, it does not contain any new or 
modified information collection burden for small business concerns with 
fewer than 25 employees, pursuant to the Small Business Paperwork 
Relief Act of 2002, Public Law 107-198, see 44 U.S.C. 3506(c)(4).

II. Introduction

    6. In this Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (2016 
Accounting Authority Second FNPRM), we propose to transition the 
functions and duties performed by the Commission as an accounting 
authority to private accounting authorities. In doing so, we seek to 
revisit findings in the 1999 Report and Order and Further Notice of 
Proposed Rulemaking (1999 Accounting Authority Order & FNPRM),\3\ which

[[Page 4271]]

included the Commission's decision that it should withdraw as an 
accounting authority in the maritime mobile and maritime mobile-
satellite radio services.\4\ The Commission tentatively concluded that 
a three-year transition period following adoption of a Report and Order 
was appropriate to permit the preparation and implementation of a plan 
to ensure a smooth, non-disruptive transition to private accounting 
authorities, and to develop the transition plan.\5\ Although in that 
Order the Commission concluded that ``the Commission shall cease 
operating as an accounting authority for settling accounts for maritime 
mobile, maritime satellite, aircraft,\6\ and handled terminal radio 
services,'' and that ``a transition period is necessary to allow for an 
orderly transition to a full privatization of the accounts-settlement 
function,'' we stopped short of proscribing a transition plan, instead 
seeking further comment ``on a number of proposals regarding how best 
to implement this transition.'' \7\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \3\ 1998 Biennial Regulatory Review--Review of Accounts 
Settlement in the Maritime Mobile and Maritime Mobile-Satellite 
Radio Services and Withdrawal of the Commission as an Accounting 
Authority in the Maritime Mobile and the Maritime Mobile-Satellite 
Radio Services, Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed 
Rulemaking, 15 FCC Rcd 20703 (1999) (1999 Accounting Authority Order 
& FNPRM).
    \4\ Id.
    \5\ Id. at 20717.
    \6\ The focus of this FNPRM is the effect on maritime 
communications, as the Commission has not, for several years, 
settled aeronautical accounts. It is important to note, however, 
that our withdrawal as accounting authority of last resort would 
include a cessation in our settling of accounts for maritime mobile, 
maritime satellite, aircraft, and handled terminal radio services, 
as we previously concluded.
    \7\ Id.
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    7. The completion of a plan based on those comments, however, was 
subsequently delayed. Thus, no definitive timeline for the transition 
to implement our decision in the Order to withdraw as accounting 
authority has been established.
    8. We continue to believe that it is in the public interest for the 
Commission to withdraw as an accounting authority. Given the passage of 
time, we now, in this 2016 Accounting Authority Second FNPRM, seek 
further comment on the appropriate transition plan and period to 
implement our decision in the 1999 Accounting Authority Order & FNPRM 
to withdraw as an accounting authority in the maritime mobile and 
maritime mobile-satellite radio services.

III. Background

    9. International maritime mobile communications are HF or VHF radio 
communications between a ship and a coast station operated by the 
telecommunications operator in the country in which the station is 
located, and international maritime mobile-satellite communications 
services are conducted by satellite. Payment for the services provided 
by the telecommunications operators involves interaction with an entity 
known as an ``accounting authority,'' which settles an account between 
the telecommunications operator and the customer. In practice, the 
telecommunications operator, the earth or coast station, sends its bill 
either to the accounting authority that the customer has designated to 
act for it or to an ``accounting authority of last resort,'' which, as 
the name implies, settles accounts for customers that have not 
designated a particular accounting authority. The function of the 
accounting authority, also referred to as a ``clearinghouse'' or 
``settlement authority,'' involves presenting the bill to the customer, 
accepting payment from the customer, and remitting the collected funds 
to the telecommunications operator.
    10. Historically, most nations required individual ships to settle 
their accounts with their telecommunications provider; however, since 
1934, the Commission has acted as an accounting authority in the United 
States, to settle accounts for maritime, aircraft, and hand-held 
terminal radio services to both private users and other U.S. federal 
government agencies. Over time, the Commission has reduced its 
accounting authority or clearinghouse function related to the maritime 
mobile radio services and the satellite-based services, including 
aeronautical and hand-held terminals. The primary reason for this 
reduction is that private accounting authorities provide similar 
account settlement services for U.S. users. Certification and operation 
of private accounting authorities are governed under part 3 of our 
rules, which ensure that qualified applicants are authorized as 
accounting authorities and that such authorities, once approved, have 
adequate guidance of the standard of conduct required of them by the 
Commission. We believe that this process has been working 
effectively.\8\ Currently, there are twenty-two entities certified as 
U.S. private accounting authorities.\9\
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    \8\ See Letter from Bruce Henoch, Inmarsat, to Accounting 
Authority Certification Office, Federal Communications Commission 
(dated April 20, 2015); Letter from Robert Swanson, Airbus Defense 
and Space, to Marlene Dortch, Federal Communications Commission 
(dated January 30, 2015); Letter from Steven Chernoff, Lukas, Nace, 
Gutierrez, and Sachs, LLP, to Accounting Authority Certification 
Officer, Federal Communications Commission (April 15, 2015) 
(providing inventories of accounting authority settlements).
    \9\ Some of these private accounting authorities may not 
currently settle accounts for maritime services; however, our 
certification does not limit any certified U.S. accounting authority 
to the settlement of accounts for only one class of service.
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    11. When the Commission last considered this matter more than 
fifteen years ago, it found no public policy reason for the 
Commission's continued function as an accounting authority,\10\ and 
concluded in the Report and Order section of the decision, therefore, 
that the Commission should withdraw as a clearinghouse for the 
settlement of accounts in the maritime mobile radio, maritime mobile-
satellite, and other satellite-based communications services.\11\ The 
Commission tentatively concluded that it should not designate a new 
accounting authority of last resort,\12\ and that a three year 
transition plan was sufficient to ensure a smooth transition.\13\ The 
Commission sought further comment on these tentative conclusions.\14\
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    \10\ 1999 Accounting Authority Order & FNPRM at 20709.
    \11\ Id. at 20723.
    \12\ Id. at 20715.
    \13\ Id. at 20718.
    \14\ Id. at 20715, 20723.
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IV. Discussion

    12. In the Order portion of the 1999 R&O and FNPRM, the Commission 
announced its decision to withdraw from the accounting authority 
function. Additionally, it revised section 3.10(e) to make explicit the 
authorities' obligations not to discriminate,\15\ grandfathered the 
accounting authority of EXXON to permit it to continue to settle 
accounts only for its ships, and provided guidance to allow applicants 
to amend their pending applications in light of the change to section 
3.10(e). In the Second FNPRM, the Commission requested comments on two 
issues. First, the Commission sought comment on whether to appoint or 
allow an entity to take over the Commission's function as the 
accounting authority of last resort, require customers to pre-subscribe 
to an accounting authority or to designate an accounting authority on 
every message, or to develop a formula to spread undesignated messages 
among several private accounting authorities. Second, the Commission 
tentatively concluded that the appropriate phase-out period was three 
years following Federal Register publication of a final order, and 
invited comment.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \15\ 47 CFR 3.10(e).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

A. Withdrawal by the Commission From the Accounting Authority Function

    13. In the 1999 R&O and FNPRM, the Commission decided to withdraw 
from performing the functions of an accounting authority, and to leave 
the settlement of accounts to the private

[[Page 4272]]

accounting authorities subject to part 3 of our rules. Although the 
Commission never implemented a transition plan, many users of the 
Commission's services subsequently have transitioned to one of these 
accounting authorities. We continue to believe that it is in the public 
interest for the Commission to withdraw as an accounting authority and 
seek comment on our proposals to do so below. The function of an 
accounting authority is not necessarily a governmental function, but 
can be performed equally well by privately owned entities, subject to 
Commission oversight under our part 3 rules.\16\ Since the Commission 
last visited this issue, U.S. private accounting authorities have 
continued to succeed in providing these functions.\17\ We anticipate 
that our action to step away from the functions of an accounting 
authority will create further competition for the settlement of 
maritime and satellite accounts, and may thereby encourage the industry 
to provide the public with more choices in obtaining settlement of 
their accounts.
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    \16\ The FCC's withdrawal as an accounting authority will in no 
way change the rules by which we certify and monitor private 
entities serving as accounting authorities for maritime mobile and 
maritime satellite services. See 47 CFR 3.1 et seq.
    \17\ See 1999 R&O and FNPRM, 15 FCC Rcd at 20706-09, paragraphs 
7-12; See Letter from Bruce Henoch, Inmarsat, to Accounting 
Authority Certification Office, Federal Communications Commission 
(dated April 20, 2015); Letter from Robert Swanson, Airbus Defense 
and Space, to Marlene Dortch, Federal Communications Commission 
(dated January 30, 2015); Letter from Steven Chernoff, Lukas, Nace, 
Gutierrez, and Sachs, LLP, to Accounting Authority Certification 
Officer, Federal Communications Commission (dated April 15, 2015) 
(providing inventories of accounting authority settlements).
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    14. Since 1999, the number of users relying on the Commission to 
provide accounting authority services has decreased,\18\ even as the 
activity handled by other accounting authorities, in general, appears 
to have increased in scope. We recognize that an immediate departure of 
the Commission as an accounting authority will require those U.S. 
international ship and satellite operators currently handled by the 
Commission to select an alternative accounting authority. We also 
believe, unlike in 1999 when we suggested a three-year transition 
period, that maritime operators are far better prepared to adjust to 
the departure of the Commission as the accounting authority. First, the 
Commission possesses the ability to contact current users and thereby 
their expedite transition. Second, through outreach and coordination 
with the maritime industry, Commission staff have learned that many of 
those entities using the Commission's accounting authority services 
have anticipated the change, and they have initiated a transition 
process in contracting with other accounting authorities. Consequently, 
we believe that most maritime mobile satellite users will be able to 
accommodate this change, and that they will act promptly to select an 
alternative accounting authority. We therefore, recommend a one year 
transition period and seek comment on this recommendation.
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    \18\ See supra n.5.
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    15. We continue to believe that we should not designate a new 
accounting authority of last resort, but, rather, customers should 
designate an accounting authority for each call or should presubscribe 
for the services of an accounting authority.\19\ We seek further 
comment on this tentative conclusion.
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    \19\ See id. at 20715 (tentatively concluding not to designate a 
new accounting authority of last resort).
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B. Government Agencies

    16. In the 1999 R&O and FNPRM we acknowledged that the Commission 
at that time acted as the accounting authority for the maritime and 
satellite communications of a majority of U.S. governmental 
agencies.\20\ At the time, because we anticipated that Government 
agency users might have special needs that differ from other users, we 
requested the agencies to address this issue in their comments.\21\
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    \20\ See 1999 R&O and FNPRM, 15 FCC Rcd at 20709, para. 13.
    \21\ See 1999 R&O and FNPRM, 15 FCC Rcd at 20709, para. 13.
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    17. In their 1998 comments, the United States Coast Guard urged the 
Commission to maintain a default accounting authority, provide ample 
notice to affected users and small vessel organizations, provide a 
smooth transition process to a new default accounting authority, and 
ensure the economic impact on small entities is non-significant.\22\ 
The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), 
in coordination with the Interdepartment Radio Advisory Committee 
(which includes the Coast Guard), expressed concern that the 
Commission's withdrawal might lead to disruption or curtailment of 
communication services to federal users, as well as increased cost to 
the taxpayer.\23\ They requested that the FCC retain its accounting 
authority, or, in the alternative, noted that most government agencies 
operate on a three year budget cycle, and asked that the FCC defer 
termination of its accounting authority responsibility ``until an [sic] 
alternative billing and payment arrangements ensuring uninterrupted 
service can be established.\24\ NTIA further urged that the FCC either 
retain its accounting authority, or designate an authority of last 
resort that would ``not charge more than the Commission currently 
charges its accounts until users are notified and given a chance to 
select their own accounting authority or accept the terms offered.'' 
\25\
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    \22\ Letter from J.D. Hersey, Jr., Chief, Spectrum Management 
Division, to Magalie Roman Salas, FCC Secretary, August 21, 1998.
    \23\ See Comments of the National Telecommunications and 
Information Administration, filed August 24, 1998, at page 2.
    \24\ Id.
    \25\ Letter from William T. Hatch, Acting Associate 
Administrator, National Telecommunications and Information 
Administration, to Magalie Roman Salas, FCC Secretary, October 29, 
1998.
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    18. We agree that, as part of an effective plan for the Commission 
to withdraw as an accounting authority, U.S. Government agencies must 
have in place alternate arrangements upon the Commission's withdrawal 
to ensure that critical communications are not disrupted. In the more 
than fifteen years, since our 1999 decision, Commission staff have 
contacted the various government agencies informing them of the 
Commission's intent to terminate its accounting authority; as a result, 
many of these various agencies, have moved to alternative accounting 
authorities for some or all of their services.\26\ In light of this 
trend, and the more than fifteen years impacted entities have had to 
transition to a new accounting authority, we seek comment on the 
appropriate time period to complete the Commission's transition from 
serving as accounting authority for government agencies. Movement of 
government agencies anticipating our change in function suggests that a 
transition period shorter than the three-year period previously 
proposed is appropriate to accommodate these particular changes, 
including anticipated government budget planning changes. We propose 
that the transition period for government and non-government entities 
be the same. We seek comment on whether one year suffices for 
government agencies to transition to an alternative accounting 
authority. Alternatively, we invite comment on whether this period 
should be longer or shorter.
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    \26\ Commission staff have confirmed the removal of many of the 
terminals once billed to these agencies from the FCC as the 
accounting authority.
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C. Accounting Authority of Last Resort

    19. The Commission historically has served as the ``accounting 
authority of last resort'' for the United States, which resulted in the 
Commission receiving from foreign telecommunications

[[Page 4273]]

operators all accounts for which the customer did not designate a 
specific accounting authority.\27\ In 1999, we tentatively concluded 
that we should not designate a new accounting authority of last 
resort.\28\ Instead, we found that customers should designate an 
accounting authority for each call or should presubscribe for the 
services of an accounting authority.\29\ We noted, however, that in 
order to prevent a deleterious effect on safety communications, the 
Commission must take care to ensure a seamless transition to new 
accounting authorities.\30\
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    \27\ See 1999 R&O and FNPRM, 15 FCC Rcd at 20715, paragraph 25.
    \28\ Id. at para. 26.
    \29\ Id.
    \30\ Id. at para. 27 (citing Coast Guard Comments at 1).
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    20. We continue to believe that, although the functions of an 
accounting authority of last resort may still be necessary to address 
infrequent situations where an authority is or cannot be designated due 
to circumstances beyond the control of the user, it remains the basic 
responsibility of the user, whether a private or governmental entity, 
to provide for an accounting authority to handle its calls. However, as 
we withdraw as an accounting authority, we tentatively conclude, based 
on the commenters' urging us, in 1998, to either retain our accounting 
authority or ensure an alternative is in place before withdrawing,\31\ 
that it will be necessary to have an alternative arrangement in place 
that will eliminate the possibility of messages being sent without 
having an accounting authority necessary to settle accounts. We seek 
comment on possible approaches to ensure an alternative is in place: 
(1) Requiring all customers to pre-subscribe to an accounting authority 
or to designate an accounting authority on every message; (2) 
developing a formula to spread undesignated messages among several 
private accounting authorities; and/or (3) appointing through 
comparative selection one of the private accounting authorities as the 
new authority of last resort.
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    \31\ Letter from J.D. Hersey, Jr., Chief, Spectrum Management 
Division, to Magalie Roman Salas, FCC Secretary, August 21, 1998. 
See, also Comments of the National Telecommunications and 
Information Administration, filed August 24, 1998, at page 2 and 
Letter from William T. Hatch, Acting Associate Administrator, 
National Telecommunications and Information Administration, to 
Magalie Roman Salas, FCC Secretary, October 29, 1998.
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Table 1--Government Agencies Who Use the Commission as an Accounting 
Authority

Defense Information Systems Agency
Department of Agriculture
Department of Air Force
Department of the Army
Department of Commerce
Department of Defense--Office of Secretary of Defense
Department of Energy
Department of Health and Human Services
Department of Homeland Security--United States Coast Guard
Department of Justice
Department of Justice--Federal Bureau of Investigation
Department of Justice--U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration
Department of the Interior
Department of the Navy
Department of State
Department of Transportation
Department of Treasury
Department of Veteran Affairs
Federal Aviation Administration
Federal Emergency Management Agency
National Aeronautics and Space Administration
National Science Foundation
On-Site Inspection Agency
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
U.S. General Services Administration
United States Information Agency
U.S. Postal Service

    21. Given the reduction of reliance on the FCC as an accounting 
authority and the resulting lower volume of customers \32\ who will be 
affected when we withdraw as accounting authority (see Table 1 above), 
we tentatively conclude that the best alternative is the first option 
noted above, to require all customers to pre-subscribe to an accounting 
authority or to designate an accounting authority on every message. We 
seek comment on this tentative conclusion as well as the merits of each 
of the three proposals. For example, is it technically feasible, for 
U.S. maritime and satellite radio traffic for which no accounting 
authority is designated and for which the customer is not able or 
willing to designate an accounting authority on every message, to allow 
the provider to bill for such traffic through a certified accounting 
authority of its choice? Is this feasible for a ship-to-shore 
radiotelephone call made through a foreign coast station? In the 
alternative, is it feasible to allow public coast stations to designate 
their own ``default'' accounting authority in order to send bills to 
mariners who have not chosen/designated a private accounting authority? 
\33\ Is there a need for the Commission to adopt additional qualifying 
criteria for an existing accounting authority to serve as a designated 
accounting authority of last resort? If so, what should the additional 
criteria be? We also seek comment on any potential enforcement or 
authority issues that may arise from each of the proposed alternatives 
for providing an accounting authority of last resort. We also request 
that commenting parties propose any other viable alternatives that help 
ensure a smooth transition while relieving the Commission from 
performing this function.
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    \32\ We note that, for 2016, traffic billed by the FCC as 
accounting authority to private and/or third parties is exclusively 
satellite traffic, and ask commenters to address whether that fact, 
coupled with the potential to allow providers to choose a U.S. 
accounting authority to bill traffic for which no accounting 
authority has been designated by the customer, mitigates any 
concerns regarding a potential gap in service once the FCC withdraws 
as accounting authority of last resort.
    \33\ There are few users of maritime public coast stations now 
due to the closure worldwide of public coast stations; however, 
ensuring the safety of such users is important. We, therefore, seek 
comment on what different approaches may be necessary for radio 
communications via a foreign public coast station versus satellite 
communications via a mobile satellite communications provider.
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    22. We note that withdrawal of the Commission as an accounting 
authority without an effective transition plan could leave a gap for 
some U.S. maritime and satellite radio traffic for which no accounting 
authority is designated. Thus, during any transition period and 
subsequently, we intend to conduct outreach to make users aware of our 
decision and their options for ensuring that they continue to receive 
the services of an accounting authority.
    23. In any event, we believe that an accounting authority, whether 
selected by the ship, the provider, or a competent default accounting 
authority, must be in place for distress and safety telecommunications 
on board ships, particularly when a maritime mobile satellite system is 
being used. We therefore seek comment on whether, if we decline to 
designate an accounting authority, we should designate an accounting 
authority of last resort specifically for Global Maritime Distress and 
Safety System (GMDSS) mobile satellite communications.\34\ Although 
maritime distress and certain safety communications are provided at no 
charge, other types of safety communications do incur a charge. If 
neither the designated nor a competent default accounting authority 
exists, then foreign earth stations may have no way to bill the U.S. 
satellite user. As a result, the user may, through no fault of its

[[Page 4274]]

own, find that its ship earth station has been barred for non-payment 
of bills. We understand that, although a ship mobile device has been 
``barred'' from the network provider (e.g., foreign earth station), a 
ship can still initiate a ship-to-shore distress alert. In such a 
situation, however, it could not communicate further with the Coast 
Guard, even if those further communications are safety related. A ship 
on the high seas that has been barred from such communications may be a 
danger to itself and others, as well as a potential problem for the 
Coast Guard. We agree with commenters that any change in accounting 
authorities must ensure that critical communications are not disrupted. 
First, during any transition period that we adopt, we will notify users 
of GMDSS mobile satellite communications of our decision to withdraw as 
an accounting authority and of their need to select a new accounting 
authority. Moreover, we seek comment, not only on designation of an 
accounting authority of last resort for all users, including GMDSS 
mobile satellite and GMDSS maritime mobile communications, but also on 
whether there are other options to ensure that the Commission's 
withdrawal as accounting authority would not cause ship stations to 
become barred because they were unaware that they need to choose a new 
accounting authority.
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    \34\ INMARSAT continues to be the only worldwide maritime mobile 
satellite system providing these safety communications. INMARSAT 
will commission a new ship terminal intended to carry distress and 
safety communications only if the application designates an 
accounting authority.
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    24. We also invite comment whether advancements in technology and 
the business community could reduce the burdens associated with our 
proposal to withdraw as accounting authority of last resort. 
Technological changes may mitigate concerns that stem from the fact 
that the Commission's service as the accounting authority of last 
resort has made it unnecessary for users to be aware that they may 
select a private accounting authority. We can promptly notify users 
which relied on the Commission as accounting authority of last resort 
for the need to select an alternative accounting authority. In doing 
so, we seek comment on notifying users from the past seven years. 
Alternatively, should we make the period of users which relied on the 
Commission as carrier of last resort shorter or longer? In addition, 
the Commission could review on a periodic basis the plan it adopts to 
ensure that the need for accounting authority services is being met, 
including distress and safety communications on board ships, and 
determine whether further modifications are appropriate.

Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis

    1. As required by the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA),\35\ the 
Commission prepared this Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (IRFA) 
of the possible significant economic impact on small entities by the 
policies and rules proposed in this Second Further Notice of Proposed 
Rulemaking (Second FNPRM). Written comments are requested on this IRFA. 
Comments must be identified as responses to the IRFA and must be filed 
by the deadline for comments on this Second FNPRM. The Commission will 
send a copy of this Second FNPRM, including the IRFA, to the Chief 
Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration (SBA).\36\ In 
addition, this Second FNPRM and IRFA (or summaries thereof) will be 
published in the Federal Register.\37\
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    \35\ 5 U.S.C. 603. The RFA, 5 U.S.C. 601-612 has been amended by 
the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996 
(SBREFA), Public Law 104-121, Title II, 110 Stat. 847 (1996).
    \36\ 5 U.S.C. 603(a).
    \37\ Id.
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A. Need for and Objectives of, the Notice

    2. In this Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (Second 
FNPRM), we propose to transition the functions and duties performed by 
the Commission as an accounting authority to private accounting 
authorities. In doing so, we seek to revisit findings in the 1999 
Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (1999 
Accounting Authority Order & FNPRM),\38\ which included the 
Commission's decision that it should withdraw as an accounting 
authority in the maritime mobile and maritime mobile-satellite radio 
services. The Commission tentatively concluded that a three-year 
transition period following adoption of a Report and Order was 
appropriate to permit the preparation and implementation of a plan to 
ensure a smooth, non-disruptive transition to private accounting 
authorities, and to develop the transition plan.\39\ The completion of 
the plan was subsequently delayed and until now, the proceeding has 
been inactive.
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    \38\ 1998 Biennial Regulatory Review--Review of Accounts 
Settlement in the Maritime Mobile and Maritime Mobile-Satellite 
Radio Services and Withdrawal of the Commission as an Accounting 
Authority in the Maritime Mobile and the Maritime Mobile-Satellite 
Radio Services, Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed 
Rulemaking, 15 FCC Rcd 20703 (1999) (1999 R&O and FNPRM). The 
Commission as part of its Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking 
sought comments to be filed by comments August 23, 1999, and replies 
by September 8, 1999.
    \39\ 1998 Biennial Regulatory Review--Review of Accounts 
Settlement in the Maritime Mobile and Maritime Mobile-Satellite 
Radio Services and Withdrawal of the Commission as an Accounting 
Authority in the Maritime Mobile and the Maritime Mobile-Satellite 
Radio Services, Order, 14 FCC Rcd 13504 (1999). The order extended 
the deadline for filing comments to October 25, 1999 and reply 
comments to November 29, 1999. The extension of time was made to 
allow for a fuller record.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    3. In this 2016 Accounting Authority Second FNPRM, we now seek 
comment on whether the findings in the 1999 Accounting Authority Order 
& FNPRM remain in the public interest. As such, we seek input on 
whether the Commission should withdraw as an accounting authority in 
the maritime mobile and maritime mobile-satellite radio services. In 
doing so, we seek information on whether interested parties continue to 
support the Commission's 1999 decision and if not, why that decision 
should be revisited or amended.

B. Legal Basis

    4. This Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking is adopted 
pursuant to Sections 1, 4(i), 4(j), 11, 201-205, 303(r) of the 
Communications Act of 1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C. 151, 154(i), 161, 
201-205, and 303(r).

C. Description and Estimate of the Number of Small Entities To Which 
the Rules Will Apply

    5. The RFA directs agencies to provide a description of, and where 
feasible, an estimate of the number of small entities that may be 
affected by the proposed rules and policies, if adopted.\40\ The RFA 
generally defines the term ``small entity'' as having the same meaning 
as the terms ``small business,'' ``small organization,'' and ``small 
governmental jurisdiction.'' \41\ In addition, the term ``small 
business'' has the same meaning as the term ``small business concern'' 
under the Small Business Act.\42\ A ``small business concern'' is one 
which: (1) Is independently owned and operated; (2) is not dominant in 
its field of operation; and (3) satisfies any additional criteria 
established by the SBA.\43\
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    \40\ 5 U.S.C. 603(b)(3).
    \41\ 5 U.S.C. 601(6).
    \42\ 5 U.S.C. 601(3) (incorporating by reference the definition 
of ``small-business concern'' in the Small Business Act, 15 U.S.C. 
632). Pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 601(3), the statutory definition of a 
small business applies ``unless an agency, after consultation with 
the Office of Advocacy of the Small Business Administration and 
after opportunity for public comment, establishes one or more 
definitions of such term which are appropriate to the activities of 
the agency and publishes such definition(s) in the Federal 
Register.''
    \43\ 15 U.S.C. 632.
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    6. The rules proposed in this Second Notice of Proposed Rulemaking 
apply to entities providing account-settlement services for maritime 
mobile and maritime mobile-satellite radio services.

[[Page 4275]]

Small businesses may be able to become accounting clearinghouses, as 
the establishment of such a function does not appear to involve high 
implementation costs. The rules also apply to existing maritime mobile 
and maritime satellite customers who have not presubscribed to a U.S. 
accounting authority and are, therefore, billed through the FCC as the 
accounting authority of last resort. An estimated thirty small entities 
have been billed for traffic by the FCC as an accounting authority in 
2016. The proposed action in this Second Notice of Proposed Rulemaking 
does not appear to involve high implementation costs for such entities.

D. Reporting, Recordkeeping, and Other Compliance Requirements

    7. The proposed action in this Second Further Notice of Proposed 
Rulemaking would affect those entities already certified and those 
applying for certification as a private accounting authority in the 
maritime mobile, maritime mobile-satellite, aeronautical and other 
satellite-based radio services. The amended rule, however, merely 
clarifies an existing requirement imposed on accounting authorities. 
It, therefore, does not alter the reporting, recordkeeping or other 
compliance requirements of certified accounting authorities.

E. Steps Taken To Minimize Significant Economic Impact on Small 
Entities and Significant Alternatives Considered

    8. As stated above, we propose to transition the functions and 
duties performed by the Commission as an accounting authority to 
private accounting authorities. In doing so, we seek to revisit 
findings in 1999 Accounting Authority Order & FNPRM),\44\ which 
included the Commission's decision that it should withdraw as an 
accounting authority in the maritime mobile and maritime mobile-
satellite radio services. We seek comment on the impact of our 
proposals on small entities and on any possible alternatives that could 
minimize the impact of our rules on small entities.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \44\ 1998 Biennial Regulatory Review--Review of Accounts 
Settlement in the Maritime Mobile and Maritime Mobile-Satellite 
Radio Services and Withdrawal of the Commission as an Accounting 
Authority in the Maritime Mobile and the Maritime Mobile-Satellite 
Radio Services, Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed 
Rulemaking, 15 FCC Rcd 20703 (1999) (1999 R&O and FNPRM). The 
Commission as part of its Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking 
sought comments to be filed by comments August 23, 1999, and replies 
by September 8, 1999.
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F. Federal Rules That Overlap, Duplicate or Conflict With These 
Proposed Requirements

    9. None.

V. Ordering Clauses

    10. It is ordered that pursuant to sections 4(i), 4(j), 11, 201-205 
and 303(r) of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C. 
154(i), 154(j), 161, 201-205 and 303(r), this Second Further Notice of 
Proposed Rulemaking is adopted.
    11. It is further ordered that the Commission's Consumer and 
Governmental Affairs Bureau, Reference Information Center, shall send a 
copy of this Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, including 
the Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis, to the Chief Counsel for 
Advocacy of the Small Business Administration.

Federal Communications Commission.
Marlene H. Dortch,
Secretary.
[FR Doc. 2017-00597 Filed 1-12-17; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 6712-01-P