The FCC adopted improvements to increase the transparency and timeliness of the cross-agency review process for applications from foreign-owned telecommunications companies seeking to participate in the U.S. telecom market. The changes formalize the long-standing assessment—known as Team Telecom review. They establish firm timeframes for the Executive Branch agencies to complete their examination of documents the Commission refers to them. The changes adopted last week are consistent with the President’s April 4, 2020 Executive Order that established the Committee for the Assessment of Foreign Participation in the United States Telecommunications Services Sector.
The FCC said the changes will provide greater certainty for applicants, facilitate beneficial foreign investment, support new services and infrastructure by U.S. authorization holders and licensees in a more timely manner, and provide for more effective review of applications and petitions that raise national security or law enforcement concerns.
The Report and Order directs the Commission to continue to refer to the Executive Branch Committee for review applications to provide international telecommunications services, deploy submarine cable licenses, and transfer control of a license to a carrier with reportable foreign ownership—subject to certain exclusions.
It requires parties to answer a standardized set of national security and law enforcement questions directly to the Committee at the same time as they file their applications with the Commission. It also provides for a 120-day initial review period followed by a discretionary 90-day additional assessment. And it requires applicants to make particular certifications to help protect national security and law enforcement interests.
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