FCC begins effort to revoke two Chinese telecoms U.S. operating authority

FILE PHOTO: Signage is seen at the headquarters of the Federal Communications Commission in Washington, D.C., U.S., August 29, 2020. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) said on Wednesday it has begun the process of revoking the authority to provide domestic interstate and international telecommunications services within the United States from China Unicom Americas, Pacific Networks and its wholly owned subsidiary ComNet.

In April, the FCC issued show-cause orders warning it might shut down the U.S. operations of three state-controlled Chinese telecommunications companies – the two cited on Wednesday and China Telecom Corp Ltd. China Unicom Americas has a two-decade old authorization to provide U.S. international telecommunications services.

The FCC opened a similar proceding in December to begin the process of revoking the authorization of China Telecom, the largest Chinese telecommunications company, which has had authorization to provide U.S. telecommunications services for nearly 20 years.

FCC Commissioner Geoffrey Starks noted that many Chinese telecom carriers “also own data centers operating within the United states.” He said the FCC currently lacks authority to “address this potential national security threat.”

In May 2019, the FCC voted unanimously to deny another state-owned Chinese telecommunications company, China Mobile Ltd, the right to provide services in the United States, citing risks that the Chinese government could use the approval to conduct espionage against the U.S. government.

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