“Team Telecom Executive Order” Formalizes and Brings Greater Clarity to Historically Opaque National Security Review Process

Under an Executive Order issued on April 4, 2020, foreign telecommunications companies seeking to do business in the U.S. will face formal scrutiny from a joint team of representatives from the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Justice, and the office of the Attorney General.  President Trump’s Executive Order brings structure and time limits to the long-standing Team Telecom review process which many foreign telecom corporations have to endure prior to receiving FCC authorization.  This Executive Order brings some structure to the Team Telecom national security review process.

The DOJ, DHS, and AG – “Team Telecom”– have conducted national security reviews of applications for international Section 214 authorizations and evaluated potential impacts on national security before recommending the FCC approve or reject the applications.  These reviews have taken place without defined guidelines as to what the agencies should look for, or how long the review should last.  Under the new system, the “Initial Review” will last no more than 120 days, plus an optional 90 day “Secondary Assessment” before producing a recommendation for the FCC, meaning most applications should be processed in no more than four to seven months.

A new committee, the “Committee for the Assessment of Foreign Participation in the United States Telecommunications Services Sector,” will work with the FCC in its public interest review.  Commissioner Brenden Carr applauded the Order and called upon Team Telecom to “examine every carrier owned by the Chinese government” now connecting to US networks.  FCC Chairman Ajit Pai declared that the FCC “will not hesitate to act to protect our networks from foreign threats” while citing China Mobile’s unsuccessful 214 application in 2019.  Both Commissioners emphasized the FCC’s interest in the “supply chain” of technologies and services underlying the networks themselves.

If you would like to know more about Team Telecom’s new structure and how this might affect your business, please contact Jonathan S. Marashlian at jsm@commlawgroup.com or 703-714-1313.

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