National Security Review of Foreign Owners Applying for FCC 214 Authorization
In approving FCC Section 214 authorization applications where there is foreign ownership of more than 5% (or where a request for declaratory ruling under section 310(b)(4) of the FCC’s rules seeking greater than 25% indirect foreign ownership of a U.S. wireless carrier, subject to Section 214), Applications for 214 Authorization are frequently “removed” from the FCC’s “streamlined” processing pursuant to the request of the Executive Branch in order to conduct national security, law enforcement, foreign policy or trade concern reviews by an inter-agency group referred to as “Team Telecom.”
Team Telecom is comprised of staff from the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation, representatives from the Department of Commerce, the Department of Defense, the Department of State, the Department of Treasury, and the Office of the United States Trade Representative. Based on its review, Team Telecom may have no comment on any application or may request that the FCC condition grant of the application on compliance with assurances made by the applicant in either an exchange of letters or a formal security agreement. The FCC will not act on an application until Team Telecom has completed its review of the application.
Since review by Team Telecom is applicant specific, the time that Team Telecom may take on an application can vary based upon the circumstances of the applicant, their past history, and their country of origin. Generally, Team Telecom review takes between six (6) to eleven (11) months to complete, however some reviews can be shorter while others may be longer. Lack of full disclosure on the questions presented by Team Telecom to the applicant can also extend the review process. Important to remember is that the company with foreign ownership cannot operate in providing telecommunication services without the FCC 214 license, or it may be exposed to FCC Enforcement Bureau investigation and potential forfeiture penalties.