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FCC proposes rules to reassess foreign-owned US telecom services authority

The head of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on Wednesday proposed new rules to periodically reassess existing authorizations for foreign-owned companies to provide telecommunications services in the United States.

The U.S. telecommunications regulator has raised mounting concerns about Chinese telecom companies in recent years which had won permission to operate in the United States decades ago. In 2019, the FCC voted to deny state-owned Chinese telecom firm China Mobile Ltd the right to provide U.S. services and later withdrew U.S. authorizations for several other Chinese telecom carriers including China Telecom Corp.

FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel said that if finalized, the reviews “would involve close consultation” with national security colleagues. The FCC will vote on the proposed rules, which would require foreign-owned license holders “to undergo a periodic review and renewal process,” at its April meeting.

Rosenworcel said: “It is so important to have the agency regularly review foreign companies’ authorizations to provide

telecommunications services in the United States.”

In December, a federal appeals court rejected China Telecom’s challenge to the FCC order withdrawing the company’s authority to provide services in the United States.

In November, the FCC banned agency approvals of new telecommunications equipment from China’s Huawei Technologies and ZTE because they pose “an unacceptable risk” to U.S. national security.

China Telecom, which had been authorized for 20 years to provide U.S. telecommunications services, had more than 335 million subscribers worldwide in 2019 and has provided services to Chinese government facilities in the United States, according to FCC filings.

The FCC in January 2022 voted to revoke the authorization for China Unicom’s U.S. unit to operate in the United States, citing national security concerns. Reuters

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