China Telecom's US unit asks court to block FCC action

China Telecom served more than 335 million subscribers worldwide as at 2019. PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - China Telecom's American subsidiary asked a US appeals court on Monday (Nov 15) to block the decision of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to revoke the telecommunication company's authorisation to operate in the United States.

China Telecom Americas was ordered on Oct 26 by the FCC to discontinue US services by early January after the US regulator cited national security concerns.

The largest Chinese telecommunications company told the US Appeals Court for the District of Columbia on Monday that it must notify customers of the decision by Dec 4 and said without a temporary halt to the FCC action, it "will be forced to cease significant operations, irreparably harming its business, reputation, and relationships".

The FCC found that China Telecom "is subject to exploitation, influence and control by the Chinese government and is highly likely to be forced to comply with Chinese government requests without sufficient legal procedures subject to independent judicial oversight".

China Telecom argued that the FCC should have first held an administrative hearing and it noted that the agency considered action for 18 months, arguing the FCC has offered no evidence "of any imminent threat".

The FCC did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

China Telecom, which has had authorisation to provide telecommunications services for 20 years in the US, served more than 335 million subscribers worldwide as at 2019, according to a Senate report, and also provides services to Chinese government facilities in the US.

It told the court that the FCC action would force it "to end its entire resold mobile resale service in the US".

The company added that it is "actively negotiating an arrangement with another service provider that would allow it to seamlessly transfer its mobile service customers to the other provider".

In March, the FCC began efforts to revoke authorisation for China Unicom Americas, Pacific Networks and its wholly owned subsidiary ComNet to provide US telecommunications services.

In May 2019, the FCC voted unanimously to deny state-owned Chinese telecommunications company, China Mobile, the right to provide US services.

Last year, the FCC designated Huawei Technologies and ZTE as national security threats to communications networks.

In March, the FCC designated five Chinese companies as posing a threat to national security under a 2019 law, including Huawei, ZTE, Hytera Communications, Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology and Zhejiang Dahua Technology.

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