It has the simplest name, but the kind of shadow overtones that national security authors crave.
Team Telecom, a largely informal working committee of the Ministries of Defense, Homeland Security and Justice (along with affiliated agencies) has been implicitly tasked with evaluating and maintaining the security of American telecommunications infrastructure in cooperation with the FCC for years. As far as we have been able to determine, the main goal is to monitor ownership of key telecommunications equipment to ensure that it does not fall into the hands of suspicious nations (think China, Russia, etc.).
Last year, Mark Harris on Extra Crunch looked deeply into the extreme delays companies may experience when reviewing Team Telecom (membership required) up to seven years in the event of China Mobile's expansion into the United States The Chinese offer to enter the market was extended before the team rejected it.
This informal agreement vanished when the administration released a new executive regulation over the weekend that officially instantiated Team Telecom as a legal process for reviewing applications for telecommunications licenses, agreements, and other applications to the FCC.
Newly christened "Committee for the Evaluation of Foreign Participation in the US Telecommunications Services Sector" (CAFPUSTSS?) will be commissioned to assist the "FCC in its review of the public interest regarding national security and law enforcement concerns caused by foreign participation in US telecommunications services sector ".
Like its Telecom predecessor team, the committee will be composed of the heads of Justice, Defense and Homeland Security, with the Attorney General playing the role of chairman. Applications to the committee are forwarded for analysis to the US Government's highest intelligence officer, the Director of National Intelligence.
Unlike in the past, when the review schedule was anything but standardized, the Executive Regulation provides for a 1
In a brief press release, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said: "I welcome the President for formalizing Team Telecom's review and establishing a process that will allow the executive to submit their professional contributions to the FCC in good time. “The FCC intends to complete its own rules for Team Telecom, a process that was first proposed at the end of the Obama administration and has continued since then.
These reforms for Team Telecom are in line with similar reforms at CFIUS, the United States Foreign Investment Committee, which was completed earlier this year after Congress passed a reform law in 2018.
While the new rules will provide some security to telecommunications areas such as fiber optic cables, expect the new rules to become even more constrained by the extension and wireless services to secure part of the US infrastructure market for countries like China. In today's FCC statement, the agency said: "As we demonstrated last year in rejecting the China Mobile application, this FCC will not hesitate to take steps to protect our networks from foreign threats."