Canada — International Submarine Cable Licensing


Pursuant to section 17 of the Canadian Telecommunications Act (the “Act”), a licence is required to construct and to operate an international submarine cable that comes under Canadian jurisdiction. Subsection 19(1) of the Act provides that “the Minister of Industry may, on application, issue an international submarine cable licence to a person that is eligible under the regulations to hold a licence.”

The issuance of international submarine cable licences is administered through Strategis, which is part of Industry Canada and the Ministry of Industry. According to the International Submarine Cable Licences Regulations (Canada) (the “Regulations”), a person may hold two classes of international submarine cable licences, namely a terminating cable licence and a through cable licence.

A “terminating cable licence” is for cables that land in Canada and interconnect with Canadian telecommunications facilities. A “through cable licence” is for cables that pass through Canada (for example, through ocean waters under Canadian jurisdiction), but which do not interconnect with telecommunications facilities in Canada.

According to section 3 of the Regulations, a person is eligible to hold a terminating cable licence “if the person controls the administration and operation of the international submarine cable in respect of which the licence is to be issued, including its associated works or facilities.”

In order to obtain either a terminating cable licence or a through cable licence, a person must file an application with the Minister of Industry that includes a set of prescribed information. The information that must be included with a licence application is set out in section 4 of the Regulations and include, inter alia:

  • the name of the applicant and the address of the applicant’s head office in Canada;
  • if the applicant is a corporation, the jurisdiction of incorporation and the date of incorporation; 
  • the origin and intended route of the international submarine cable and, in the case of a terminating cable licence, the points where the cable will connect to telecommunications facilities in Canada;
  • documentation that indicates compliance with the requirements set out in the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act;
  • the term being requested for the licence, which may not exceed 10 years; and
  • information relating to the capital costs and technical capabilities of the international submarine cable and its associated works and facilities.

The applicant is also required to pay a fee of $100 at the time of application for the first term of the licence. The licensee must also pay a fee of $100 in each subsequent year of the term of licence.


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