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Trump targets non-domestic telecom licences

US president Donald Trump took steps which could see non-domestic telecoms companies lose licences to operate in the country if judged to be threats to national security.

The Committee for the Assessment of Foreign Participation in the United States Telecommunications Services Sector is tasked with assessing current licences and applications, and providing recommendations to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to dismiss, deny or conditionally approve each request.

Despite the broader national security guise, the move formalises pressure authorities applied to regulator the FCC in 2019 to prohibit China Unicom and China Telecom renewing interconnection agreements signed earlier this century. This followed a decision not to renew a licence held by China Mobile.

Applications must be referred for review by the FCC, after which the committee will have 120 days to complete its evaluation. It will also have the power to review existing licences at its own discretion, and recommend modifications or outright revocation.

The committee is headed by US Attorney General William Barr, with the secretaries of Defence and Homeland Security also on board. President Trump holds discretion to appoint other officials.

FCC chairman Ajit Pai said in a statement Trump’s order will “allow the Executive Branch to provide its expert input to the FCC in a timely manner” and “allow us to process such applications more quickly”.

―Mobile World Live

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