Team Telecom will now have 120 days to conduct national security reviews of license applications
Sporting the colloquial name “Team Telecom,” the new committee established by the Trump Administration via an executive order aims to enhance national security by assisting the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in the review of foreign participation in U.S. telecommunication services.
The committee, chaired by the U.S. Attorney General and including the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of Homeland Security and other agency heads, will advise the FCC on the law enforcement and national security implications of foreign telecom companies seeking FCC licenses to operate in the U.S.
In an official statement, FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr praised the order, commenting, “By issuing this Executive Order, the President acted to ensure the security of our telecom networks against foreign actors who may seek to do us harm — and the timing could not have been better. The threats of attacks on our critical telecom infrastructure and illegal spying rise as our reliance on those networks rises.”
The order, which completes an initiative begun in 2016 during the Obama administration to streamline an FCC approval process, is partially motivated by a 2011 event in which China Mobile — the largest mobile operator in the world — waited eight years after applying for a license to operate in the U.S. only to have the application denied by the FCC based on national security and law enforcement concerns last year.
Per the latest order, Team Telecom will now have 120 days to conduct national security reviews of license applications. In the event that further assessment is deemed necessary, the team will have an additional 90 days to conduct a second review.
While application wait times will see an improvement under the new order, it does not provide foreign companies with a clearer application process and those denied on the basis of national security reasons will not necessarily have insight into the details behind the decision.
Further, it is expected that the order will actually create additional barriers for Chinese companies trying to make head way in the U.S. telecom infrastructure market, like the Trump Administration’s longtime rival Huawei.
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