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HQ 965798

September 26, 2002

CLA-2 RR:CR:GC 965798TPB


TARIFF NO.: 8517.50.9000

Ms. Marianne Rowden
Katten Muchin Zavis Roseman
525 West Monroe Street
Suite 1600
Chicago, IL 60661-3693

RE: Alcatel Submerged Repeaters

Dear Ms. Rowden:

This is in response to your letter dated June 21, 2002, to the Director, National Commodity Specialist Division, New York, on behalf of Alcatel Submarine Networks (“ASN”), Limited, requesting classification of the Alcatel Submerged Repeaters (“Repeaters”) under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (“HTSUS”). Your request was forwarded to this office for consideration.


Alcatel Submerged Repeaters are devices that form part of a telecommunications system for transmitting data through an optical fiber cable. The repeaters are designed to amplify digital transmission signals photonically by using a laser diode as a light energy source to make a weak signal stronger. Each optical fiber has two amplifiers, on for each direction of the transmission, that are mounted on an amplifier module with various components (i.e. laser diode, control circuit, supervisory circuit and power supply circuit). The repeaters are connected to the fiber optic cables in extremity boxes which are attached to the end of the repeater housing. The extremity box protects the connection between the repeater and the fiber optic cable in the harsh conditions of the undersea environment. The repeaters are designed to function without maintenance for decades and are designed for operation in extreme depths. To that end, the fiber splices and power feed connections between the cables and the repeaters are located in the extremity boxes attached to each end of the repeater. ISSUE:

What is the classification of the optical repeaters?


Merchandise is classifiable under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS) in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (GRIs). GRI 1 states in part that for legal purposes, classification shall be determined according to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes, and provided the headings or notes do not require otherwise, according to GRIs 2 through 6. GRI 2(a) states in part that incomplete or unfinished articles are to be classified as complete or finished if, as imported, they have the essential character of the complete or finished article. GRI 6 permits the comparison of same-level subheadings within the same heading, in part by application of Rules 1 through 5, applied by appropriate substitution of terms.

The Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System Explanatory Notes (ENs) constitute the official interpretation of the Harmonized System at the international level. While not legally binding, the ENs provide a commentary on the scope of each heading of the Harmonized System and are thus useful in ascertaining the classification of merchandise under the HTSUS. Customs believes the ENs should always be consulted. See T.D. 89-80, 54 Fed. Reg. 35127, 35128 (Aug. 23, 1989).

The HTSUS headings under consideration are as follows:

Section XVI, note 1(m), HTSUS, provides, in pertinent part, as follows:

This section does not cover:

(m) Articles of chapter 90;

Electrical apparatus for line telephony or line telegraphy, including line telephone sets with cordless handsets and telecommunication apparatus for carrier-current line systems or for digital line systems; videophones; parts thereof:

Liquid crystal devices not constituting articles provided for more specifically in other headings; lasers, other than laser diodes; other optical appliances and instruments, not specified or included elsewhere in this chapter; parts and accessories thereof:

The ENs for heading 85.17 provide, in pertinent part, as follows:


These systems are based on the modulation of a light beam by digital signals. . These systems are used for the transmission of all kinds of information (words, data, images, etc.)

These systems include all categories of multiplexers and related line equipment for metal or optical-fibre cables.

The optical repeaters are finished devices that are ready for splicing onto submarine cable at the time of their importation. Heading 8517, HTSUS, captures goods principally used for digital line system transmission.

The optical repeaters are used exclusively with long-haul digital telecommunication equipment. The repeaters house the apparatus necessary for the amplification of light signals traveling through the spliced fiber optic cables, including laser pumps, optical amplifiers, photodiodes, control circuits, supervisory circuits and power supply circuits.

The repeaters contain optical amplifiers, which may, if principally used in other applications, be classified in heading 9013, which covers, in pertinent part, other optical appliances and apparatus not classified elsewhere in this chapter. The instant repeaters are not classified in chapter 90, as they are solely used in telecommunication digital line system, and contain other equipment as noted above. Thus, at GRI 1, the repeaters are specifically provided for in heading 8517, HTSUS. Section XVI, note 1(m), which excludes goods of chapter 90, does not operate in this instance.


By application of GRI 1, for the reasons stated above, the Alcatel Submerged Repeaters are classified under subheading 8517.50.9000, HTSUS, which provides for: “Electrical apparatus for line telephony or line telegraphy, including line telephone sets with cordless handsets and telecommunication apparatus for carrier-current line systems or for digital line systems; videophones; parts thereof: Other apparatus, for carrier-current line systems or for digital line systems: Other: Telegraphic: Other.”


Myles B. Harmon, Acting Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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