FCC stops China Unicom Americas from operating in U.S.

Jan. 31, 2022
The company has 60 days to cease providing domestic and international services in the country.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) adopted an order revoking China Unicom (Americas) Operations Ltd.’s authority to operate in the U.S. The company has 60 days to cease providing domestic and international services in the country. As was the case with similar moves against China Telecom (see "FCC targets four Chinese operators with show cause notice, threatens U.S. operations" and "FCC pulls the plug on China Telecom Americas"), the FCC said it took the action to safeguard U.S. security.

The FCC signaled such a move was coming in March 2021, when it stated that China Unicom Americas have “failed to dispel serious concerns” regarding its presence in the U.S. market. That announcement initiated a set of procedures that included the gathering of input from the company as well as U.S. Executive Branch agencies and the public about next steps. The agency said adoption of Order on Revocation (FCC 22-9) followed such input as well as a “thorough review of the company’s responses in this proceeding, the public record, and the FCC’s public interest analysis under the law.”

The security concerns arose from a belief that, as a subsidiary of a Chinese government owned entity, China Unicom Americas could be significantly influenced by the Chinese government to take actions potentially harmful to U.S. security without what the FCC would consider independent judicial oversight. The FCC also stated that China Unicom Americas had demonstrated “a lack of candor, trustworthiness, and reliability” in dealing with Congress and the FCC.

“It was more than two decades ago that China Unicom Americas first received section 214 authorization from the Federal Communications Commission to provide domestic and international service in the United States. But since that time, the national security landscape has shifted and there has been mounting evidence—and with it, a growing concern—that Chinese state-owned carriers pose a real threat to the security of our telecommunications networks,” stated FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel. “[W]e believe it is clear that the public interest is no longer served by China Unicom Americas’ retention of its section 214 authority.”

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About the Author

Stephen Hardy | Editorial Director and Associate Publisher, Lightwave

Stephen Hardy is editorial director and associate publisher of Lightwave and Broadband Technology Report, part of the Lighting & Technology Group at Endeavor Business Media. Stephen is responsible for establishing and executing editorial strategy across the both brands’ websites, email newsletters, events, and other information products. He has covered the fiber-optics space for more than 20 years, and communications and technology for more than 35 years. During his tenure, Lightwave has received awards from Folio: and the American Society of Business Press Editors (ASBPE) for editorial excellence. Prior to joining Lightwave in 1997, Stephen worked for Telecommunications magazine and the Journal of Electronic Defense.

Stephen has moderated panels at numerous events, including the Optica Executive Forum, ECOC, and SCTE Cable-Tec Expo. He also is program director for the Lightwave Innovation Reviews and the Diamond Technology Reviews.

He has written numerous articles in all aspects of optical communications and fiber-optic networks, including fiber to the home (FTTH), PON, optical components, DWDM, fiber cables, packet optical transport, optical transceivers, lasers, fiber optic testing, and more.

You can connect with Stephen on LinkedIn as well as Twitter.

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