President Donald Trump recently issued an Executive Order establishing a committee to assess foreign participation in the U.S telecom sector. The document formalizes a working group known as “Team Telecom” which has been reviewing certain telecommunications transactions that fall under the FCC’s jurisdiction.
For years, the Commission has referred transactions to Team Telecom, to consider national security and law enforcement issues that may be raised by applications for FCC licenses and other grants of authority involving foreign ownership. The White House order formalizes responsibilities and process for that review.
FCC Chairman Pai said on Monday: “The FCC will move forward to conclude our own pending rulemaking on reform of the foreign ownership review process. As we demonstrated last year in rejecting the China Mobile application, this FCC will not hesitate to act to protect our networks from foreign threats. At the same time, we welcome beneficial investment in our networks and believe that this Executive Order will allow us to process such applications more quickly.”
The order creates a shot clock for the Committee/Team Telecom to complete its review and allows scrutiny of previously granted FCC licenses. That’s been called for by some agency leadership due to concerns regarding Chinese telecom investments and suppliers. The order also formalizes Team Telecom’s authority to request information from applicants and enter into mitigation agreements to address national security or law enforcement risks.
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