FCC Record, Volume 26, No. 7, Pages 4843 to 5761, March 28 - April 08, 2011 Page: 5,226
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Commission's benchmarks policy, subject to the conditions discussed below. Such a waiver would be
consistent with the State Department's January 2010 policy guidance on licensing the provision of
telecommunications services to Cuba. That policy guidance implements changes made by the Executive
Branch in 2009 to the U.S.-Cuba policy that are designed to facilitate greater contact between separated
family members in the United States and Cuba and increase the flow of information to the Cuban people,
including greater telecommunications links.63 In issuing this policy guidance, the State Department
sought to authorize fiber optic cable and satellite links between the United States and Cuba, and to permit
international roaming arrangements with Cuban telecommunications service providers." As noted above,
the State Department advised that "the Commission should be prepared, to the extent necessary, to grant
waivers reasonably limited in duration to enable carriers within its jurisdiction to provide
telecommunications service between the United States and Cuba."6s Given the unique circumstances of
the U.S.-Cuba route, as discussed above,66 we agree with the parties in this proceeding that waiving the
benchmarks policy as it applies to Cuba is reasonable and necessary to re-establish direct links to Cuba
with the expectation of improving telecommunications services between the United States and Cuba. A
waiver of the benchmark rates will give U.S. carriers greater flexibility in their discussions with Cuban
service providers. We also agree with the parties that a three-year waiver is reasonable and that a shorter
period may not provide sufficient opportunity for progress.
24. While we believe that a conditional waiver of the Commission's benchmarks policy
would serve the public interest, we also seek to ensure that progress in re-establishment of business
relations and direct links will lower rates for consumers. We do not intend our waiver to foster
continuation of the high consumer rates that exist for services now provided on an indirect basis between
the United States and Cuba.
25. First, we note that the settlement rate for terminating traffic on the U.S.-Cuba route are
well above those rates that U.S. carriers pay to carriers in other countries, including Cuba's neighbors.
As a general matter, settlement costs for terminating telephone calls internationally are an important
component of charges paid by consumers on an international route. Based on calculations from the most
recent compilation of international traffic and revenue data published by the Commission, the average
U.S. carrier settlement payout per minute on the U.S.-Cuba route was $0.77, extraordinarily high in
comparison to the average U.S. carrier settlement payout per minute of $0.06 for all international points67
and $0.10 for other countries in the Caribbean region.68
63 See 2010 State Department Letter at 1; See also supra n.7.
65 See 2010 State Department Letter at 2.
66 See supra 2-6.
67 The average U.S. carrier settlement payout per minute for termination of all U.S.-originated traffic to all
international points reported by U.S. carriers was $0.058 per minute in 2008. In comparison, the average U.S.
carrier settlement payout per minute for termination of U.S.-Cuba traffic was $0.774. See 2008 International
Telecommunications Data, Table Al. Even though Cuba accounted for only 0.34% of the world's total U.S. billed
minutes of traffic in 2008, U.S. carrier settlement payouts to Cuba were 4.62% of all U.S. carrier settlement payouts
for termination of telephone traffic to foreign countries. Id, Table Al.
68 For the Caribbean region exclusive of Cuba (25 countries), the average U.S. carrier settlement payout per minute
for termination of U.S.-originated traffic was $0.098. See 2008 International Telecommunications Data, Table Al.
The percentage of U.S. carriers' settlements payments on the U.S.-Cuba route was 32.81% of total U.S. carriers'
settlement payments to the entire Caribbean region, although U.S. carrier-billed minutes to Cuba accounted for only
5.80% of the total U.S. carrier-billed minutes to that region. See id., Table Al.
Federal Communications Commission
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United States. Federal Communications Commission. FCC Record, Volume 26, No. 7, Pages 4843 to 5761, March 28 - April 08, 2011, book, April 2011; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc52169/m1/398/: accessed October 17, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.