To assist industry in understanding how the permit extension process operates, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (the ACMA) has developed this outline of the process for applying to the ACMA for an extension to the duration of a submarine cable installation permit.
More specifically, this outline provides an overview of the permit extension process, the information applicants should provide to the ACMA and the ACMA’s approach to deciding whether to grant an extension to the duration of an existing permit.
Under Schedule 3A to the Telecommunications Act 1997, a carrier may apply to the ACMA for a permit to install one or more submarine cables in Australian waters. All international submarine cables (both in a protection zone and in Australian waters that are not in a protection zone and that are not coastal waters of a State or the Northern Territory) require an installation permit from the ACMA. A permit is also required for a domestic cable if the cable is to be installed in a declared protection zone.
For more detailed information on submarine cable installation permits please see the ACMA’s Guide to Applying for a Submarine Cable Installation Permit.
Requesting a permit extension
Once granted by the ACMA, a cable installation permit remains valid for 18 months. Before a permit expires, a carrier may seek to extend the duration of the permit for a further 180 days. To extend a permit a carrier must apply to the ACMA before the permit expires and provide reasons (in writing) for seeking the extension.
There is no statutory limit to the maximum number of extensions that may be granted by the ACMA, however, a non-refundable fee of $1,414 is payable to the ACMA for each permit extension request.
Information required by the ACMA
All requests to extend a permit must be accompanied by a statement setting out the reasons why a permit extension is being requested. These reasons may include information about delays in obtaining overseas approvals/permits/licences, delays as a result of survey, manufacturing or cable laying problems or other technical or commercial impediments (as applicable).
To support a request for a permit extension, an applicant should provide an outline of their submarine cable project plan and scheduled dates for key milestones including (as relevant) the following:
- Completion of marine route survey.
- Granting of/application for landing station and associated permits.
- Contract-in-force for cable and component supply.
- Commencement of cable manufacture and assembly.
- Installation of cable landing facilities.
- Commencement of cable laying.
- Proposed ready-for-service date.
- Any other key milestones.
Once the applicant has prepared the necessary information it can be sent to the ACMA using the email address: firstname.lastname@example.org. The ACMA may contact the applicant in order to clarify aspects of the information provided.
ACMA consideration and decision-making
The ACMA will consider and assess the information provided by the applicant to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to substantiate the reasons for requesting a permit extension.
Where an application is made for a second or subsequent permit extension, the ACMA will not only consider the current reasons provided but also assess the applicant’s progress against previously provided key milestones (as set out in their submarine cable project plan). The ACMA may also have regard to the impact of any extension on other cable proponents.
Notification of ACMA decision
Lastly, the ACMA will notify the applicant of its decision regarding permit extension. If the ACMA refuses the application, it must give the holder of the permit written notice of the ACMA’s decision and the reasons for the decision.
 The ACMA cannot accept an application to extend a permit after the permit has expired.