Saturday, 30 May 2020

US Executive Order could close doors for foreign telcos

by Harry Baldock, Total Telecom
Tuesday 07 April 20

A new committee and new procedures are to be put in place to vet potential telecoms investors from outside the US

Yesterday, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Commissioner Michael O’Rielly released a statement supporting President Donald Trump’s Executive Order to establish a new committee and procedures to review applications of foreign investors in the telecoms sector…

Yesterday, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Commissioner Michael O’Rielly released a statement supporting President Donald Trump’s Executive Order to establish a new committee and procedures to review applications of foreign investors in the telecoms sector.
 
“I will request that [FCC] Chairman Pai move expeditiously to integrate the new Executive Order into our review process,” said O’Rielly’s statement.
 
The new regulatory body, to be dubbed the Committee for the Assessment of Foreign Participation in the United States Telecommunications Services Sector, will be funded by the Department of Justice and will have a remit to review license applications from companies outside of the US.
 
The Committee will primarily appraise these companies on a national security basis, as well as proposing mitigation measures if required. It will also be in charge of monitoring a company’s compliance with these measures once applied. If companies are found to overstep the mark, the Committee will recommend to the FCC that it modify or remove the company’s licence to operate in the US.
 
The Committee members will include some fairly big hitters within the US administration, including the Secretary of Defense, the Attorney General, and the Secretary of Homeland Security.
 
It is hard not to frame this Executive Order as something of a dig against China, given the ongoing trade war. Last year, the FCC rejected an application by China Mobile to provide services to the US, citing national security concerns, and their attitude has not softened. 
 
However, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has been quick to allay fears that the Executive Order will make it more difficult for trusted foreign investors to gain access to the US, in fact suggesting that it will “allow us to process such applications more quickly.”
 
 
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