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Rosenworcel ‘pleased’ as court rejects China Telecom appeal

Jessica Rosenworcel FCC.jpg

The chair of the US regulator has welcomed a court decision to uphold a ban on China Telecom’s operations in the US.

Jessica Rosenworcel (pictured), chairwoman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), said she was “pleased” with the ruling, by the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

The verdict “upholds our decision last year to revoke and terminate China Telecom’s authority to provide communications service in the United States”, said Rosenworcel.

It was Rosenworcel’s first task after her official nomination as FCC chair in 2021 to implement a Trump-era policy to ban China Telecom from the US.

Hours after President Joe Biden said Rosenworcel should chair the FCC, she said that China Telecom Americas (CTA) would lose its US licence within 60 days.

That meant on or before 24 December 2021. It has taken a further year for the decision to be confirmed in the courts.

CTA did not immediately comment. In an interview in May 2022, Luis Fiallo, VP of CTA, told Capacity that company was expanding in the Americas outside of the US. “In the next couple of years we plan to expand to all South American countries,” he said. “Mexico is on our horizon and we are trying to understand Central America a bit better.”

But, he admitted in that interview, “the buying power of the US is totally different”.

In her statement after the court verdict, Rosenworcel said: “This action was based on the recommendation of national security agencies that found that China Telecom’s operations in the US provided opportunities for increased Chinese state-sponsored cyber activities, including economic espionage and the disruption and misrouting of US communications traffic.”

She said: “There is no higher FCC responsibility than safeguarding our networks, and today’s ruling is a strong affirmation of our authority to do so.”

Capacity will be interviewing a senior executive of China Telecom Global in January.

In September 2022 the FCC banned two other Chinese companies, China Unicom and Pacific Network, from providing international telecoms services in the country.

The rule, under the Secure Networks Act, also applied to Pacific Network’s wholly owned subsidiary ComNet (USA). China Mobile was refused a licence in 2019, but was also banned in March 2022.

The FCC declared that China Unicom and Pacific Network were “a threat to national security” and added the companies to its list of communications equipment and services that are banned from the US.