The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) said Thursday it had begun withdrawing China Telecom’s approval to operate in the U.S. as further steps were taken to combat China’s role in U.S. telecommunications.
FCC chairman Ajit Pai noted that several US government agencies had recommended the revocation, citing national safety concerns.
Pai said there was “significant concern” that China Telecom would be forced to comply with the Chinese government’s requests for information, including communications tapping. China Telecom, the largest Chinese telecommunications company, has been licensed to provide telecommunications services for almost 20 years.
China Telecom Americas had no immediate comment.
The FCC warned in April that it could suspend the US operations of three state-controlled Chinese telecommunications companies, citing national security risks, including China Telecom Americas as well as China Unicom Americas, Pacific Networks Corp and its wholly owned subsidiary ComNet (USA). GMBH.
The US Department of Justice and other federal agencies in April called on the FCC to revoke China Telecom’s ability to operate in the US.
In May 2019, the FCC unanimously voted to deny another Chinese state-owned telecommunications company, China Mobile, the right to provide services in the United States, citing the risk that the Chinese government could obtain authorization to conduct espionage against the US Government could use.
The FCC also turned down a petition from Huawei on Thursday urging the agency to reconsider its decision to label the Chinese company as a national security threat to communications networks in the US.
The FCC announced in June that it had officially classified China’s Huawei and ZTE as a threat. This statement prevents U.S. firms from drawing on a $ 8.3 billion government fund (around Rs 61,100) to buy equipment from the companies. The FCC confirmed its ZTE designation last month.
The FCC on Thursday also laid down rules requiring carriers with ZTE or Huawei devices to “rip and replace” those devices, and created a reimbursement program to subsidize smaller carriers to remove and replace those services and devices.
Pai noted that the Commission “can only actually implement the reimbursement program if Congress provides the necessary funds.”
Huawei said in a statement it was “disappointed with the FCC’s decision to force the removal of our products from telecommunications networks. This over-range puts US citizens in the largely underserved rural areas at risk – during a pandemic – when reliable communications are essential.”
© Thomson Reuters 2020
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