The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) this week approved new rules and procedures to streamline and improve the timeliness and transparency of how FCC coordinates with other Federal agencies in assessing national security, law enforcement, foreign policy, or trade policy issues that may impact foreign ownership applications filed with the commission.
“The rules will provide greater regulatory certainty for applicants and facilitate foreign investment in, and the provision of new services and infrastructure by, U.S. authorization holders and licensees in a timelier manner, while continuing to ensure that the Commission receives the benefit of the agencies’ views as part of its public interest review of an application,” the order said.
FCC said the new procedures will improve the ability of other Federal agencies to expeditiously and efficiently review applications, and make the review process more transparent.
These new rules and procedures stem from an Executive Order (EO) signed by President Trump on April 4, 2020 that establishes a Committee for the Assessment of Foreign Participation in the U.S. Telecommunications Services Sector. The EO sets timeframes for the committee’s review of foreign ownership applications filed with the FCC.
“Among other requirements, for most applications referred by the Commission, the Committee has 120 days for initial review, plus an additional 90 days for secondary assessment if the Committee determines that the risk to national security or law enforcement interests cannot be mitigated with standard mitigation measures,” the order says.
The EO and the FCC’s action this week create a structure for what has been known informally for years as “Team Telecom” – a group of intelligence, civilian, and defense agencies that makes recommendations on the national security implications of applications filed with the FCC to acquire U.S. telecom assets. Those review activities are separate from other regulatory input on telecom deals by antitrust regulators and the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. (CFIUS).