FCC Adopts New Rules for Foreign Ownership Review Process
Wednesday, September 30, 2020 | Comments

The FCC adopted improvements to the transparency and timeliness of the cross-agency review process for applications from companies with foreign ownership seeking to participate in the U.S. telecommunications market.

These changes formalize the long-standing review process, known informally as Team Telecom review, and establish firm timeframes for the executive branch agencies to complete their review of applications and petitions for declaratory ruling that the commission refers to them. The changes to the FCC’s rules and procedures are consistent with the President’s April 4, executive order that established the Committee for the Assessment of Foreign Participation in the United States Telecommunications Services Sector.

The new rules and procedures adopted today stem from proposals in the commission’s June 2016 notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) as well as actions taken in the executive order, and will provide greater certainty for applicants, facilitate beneficial foreign investment, support the provision of new services and infrastructure by U.S. authorization holders and licensees in a more timely manner, and provide for more effective review of applications and petitions that raise national security or law enforcement concerns.

The report and order directs the commission to continue to refer applications such as those to provide international telecommunications services, deploy submarine cable licenses and transfer control of a license to a carrier with reportable foreign ownership to the executive branch committee for review, subject to certain exclusions. The bill requires parties to provide answers to a standardized set of national security and law enforcement questions directly to the committee at the same time as the parties file their applications with the commission. It also provides for a 120-day initial review period followed by a discretionary 90-day additional assessment. And, it requires applicants to make particular certifications to help protect national security and law enforcement interests.

The new rules ensure that the commission continues to receive the benefit of executive branch agency views as part of its public interest review of an application or petition. The new rules and procedures will also add transparency to the process while improving the ability of the executive branch agencies to expeditiously and efficiently review referred applications and petitions.

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