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FCC revokes US authorization of Chinese telecommunications company Pacific Networks

The United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on Wednesday voted to revoke the authorization granted to Pacific Networks and its wholly-owned subsidiary ComNet to provide telecommunications services in the United States.

The 4-0 vote to revoke the authority that was granted in 2001 is the latest move by the US regulator to ban Chinese telecom operators from the United States over national security concerns. The FCC said Pacific Networks and ComNet are indirectly and ultimately owned and controlled by the Chinese government.

Jeffrey Carlisle, a US attorney representing Pacific Networks, declined to comment. In January, he told the FCC that Pacific Networks and ComNet were owned by CITIC Telecom International Holdings Ltd. 1883.HK.

The FCC says the carriers are ultimately controlled by CITIC Group Corp, a Chinese state-owned limited liability company.

Carlisle’s letter said the carriers “engage in very limited, small-scale facility-based operations in the United States that do not pose national security concerns. … The companies’ primary business is to provide retail calling cards”.

The Chinese Embassy in Washington did not immediately comment.

FILE – FCC Commissioner Geoffrey Starks testifies during a monitoring hearing to review the Federal Communications Commission, in Washington, June 24, 2020.

FCC Commissioner Geoffrey Starks noted the commission’s three-year effort to reach out to Chinese telecom carriers. “Taken together, our actions have strengthened our national security,” Starks said.

In March 2021, the FCC found that Pacific Networks and ComNet failed to “address serious concerns regarding their continued authority to provide telecommunications services in the United States.”

In January, the FCC voted to revoke a similar authorization for China Unicom’s U.S. unit 0762.HK to operate in the United States, citing national security concerns.

In October, the FCC revoked the US authorization for China Telecom 0728.HK (Americas), saying it “is subject to the operation, influence and control of the Chinese government”. China Telecom failed to convince a US court to overturn the decision.

In 2019, the FCC rejected an offer from China Mobile Ltd. 0941.HK to provide US telecommunications services, citing national security risks.

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