FCC Wants to Keep Closer Tabs on Foreign Telecoms

FCC seal in meeting room
(Image credit: Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

The Federal Communications Commission has proposed requiring foreign telecoms operating in the U.S. to have to periodically reapply for authorization to do so, giving the agency touch points to make sure such firms are operating in the public interest.

That was one of the noncontroversial items the politically tied agency approved at its April monthly meeting Thursday (April 20).

The FCC said that, for the first time, it would require companies with “existing authorizations” to file renewal applications. The move comes after the FCC revoked the Section 214 telecom licenses of a quartet of Chinese state-owned telecoms over perceived national security threats.

Currently the FCC grants such authorizations, but has no process for monitoring them for potential risks to national security. The required renewal will provide for that evaluation.

The FCC is also proposing a one-time collection of data from authorized foreign telecoms.

The FCC is asking for comment on two ways of handling that periodic review. One would be an authorization renewal every 10 years, the other a requirement for Section 214 authorization holders to periodically update information that would allow the FCC to reevaluate their status.

The agency is also considering proposed or possible improvements to the rules, including those related to: “(1) a 5% threshold for reportable ownership interests; (2) foreign-owned managed network service providers; (3) cross-border facilities information; (4) a facilities cybersecurity certification; (5) a facilities ‘covered list’ certification; and (6) other changes to Parts 1 and 63 of the Commission’s rules.”

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.