Senate: FCC Needs Foreign Telecom Review Standards

But says Chinese telecoms raise clear national security concerns

The Senate Investigations Subcommittee says the FCC needs to come up with a “clear standard” for revoking a foreign telecom carrier’s authorization to operate in the U.S. 

Related: FCC Flags More Chinese Telecoms 

“Telecommunications companies must understand the circumstances under which authorizations could be revoked and be afforded due process to challenge potential revocation,” the committee said in a new report, “Threats to U.S. Networks: Oversight of Chinese Government-Owned Carriers.” 

The FCC is currently reviewing whether China Unicom America,d China Telecom America, and ComNet should be able to continue to hold licenses to operate in the U.S. (connect with U.S. networks). 

The FCC said Friday (April 24) that it had issued “show cause” orders directing them to justify why the FCC should not start proceedings to revoke their licenses. 

Related: China Telecom Has Some Explaining to Do, Says FCC

But while urging due process for foreign telecoms, the committee report also concludes that ) “[t]he Chinese government engages in cyber and economic espionage efforts against the United States and may use telecommunications carriers operating in the United States to further these efforts.” 

It concludes that the national security concerns over China Mobile USA, whose license the FCC voted earlier to revoke, apply to China Unicom America,d China Telecom America, and ComNet, which the committee says are all Chinese state-owned carriers. 

Asked about the report Tuesday (June 9), FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said the FCC was continuing to work on those reviews, and was giving them due process that would not be available in China. 

In a letter to the committee, China Unicom Americas (CUA) said it is “not subject to the exploitation, influence, or control of the Chinese government,” adding “CUA itself has never received, and would not accept, any instructions from the Chinese government on how to run its operations. “

CUA has told the that if it FCC evaluates the company on the merits and facts, it will find that the telecom is a stand-alone operation that adheres to U.S. law, rules and regulations and poses no threat to U.S. network security.