FCC may stop China Telecom, China Unicom, Pacific Networks and ComNet

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has issued Orders to Show Cause against four Chinese government controlled companies.
FCC Chairman Ajit PaiChina Telecom Americas, China Unicom Americas, Pacific Networks, and ComNet have received 30 days to explain why FCC should not start the process of revoking their domestic and international section authorizations enabling them to operate in the United States.

FCC earlier rejected China Mobile USA’s application to provide international telecom services between the United States and foreign destinations on national security and law enforcement grounds.

“Foreign entities providing telecom services — or seeking to provide services — in the United States must not pose a risk to our national security,” said Chairman Ajit Pai.

The Orders to Show Cause give the companies the opportunity to demonstrate that they are not subject to the influence and control of the Chinese government, that they continue to be qualified to hold domestic and international section 214 authorizations and International Signaling Point Codes.

The U.S. Justice Department and other federal agencies this month called on the FCC to revoke China Telecom’s ability to operate in the United States.

In May 2019, the FCC voted unanimously to deny another state-owned Chinese telecommunications company, China Mobile, 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.

China Telecom Americas is the U.S. subsidiary of a Chinese state-owned telecommunications company. A spokesman for China Telecom said on Friday the company “has been operating in good standing in the United States for nearly 20 years. We look forward, in the coming weeks, to sharing information with the FCC that speaks to our role as a responsible telecom company.”

Pacific Networks resells international voice and data to U.S. operators on a wholesale basis and ComNet provides international termination service, global SIM card service and international calling card service and interexchange service.

Senator Tom Cotton, a Republican and ally of Trump, praised the review and said the firms’ “operation in the United States will continue to pose a threat to our critical networks as long as it continues.”

China’s telecommunications networks and companies have come under heightened scrutiny by U.S. agencies. The FCC this month agreed to allow Alphabet unit Google to use part of an U.S.-Asia undersea telecommunications cable but not a part that connected with Hong Kong.

Google agreed to operate only a portion of the 8,000-mile (12,875-km) Pacific Light Cable Network System between the United States and Taiwan. Google and Facebook helped pay for construction of the now completed telecommunications link but U.S. regulators have blocked its use.