FCC Cancels China Unicom License to Operate in the U.S.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has revoked China Unicom’s authority to provide telecom services in the U.S.   

Under the adopted Order on Revocation, China Unicom Americas must withdraw all domestic and international services within 60 days.  

A similar order was released late last year for China Telecom.  

While the deal includes the firm stopping offering telecoms services in America within 60 days, the announcement arrives after rival China Telecom had its license to operate in the U.S. revoked in October.  

FCC chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said in a statement: “There has been mounting evidence – and with it, a growing concern – those Chinese state-owned carriers pose a real threat to the security of our telecommunications networks.”  

China Unicom said in a statement that its American unit “has a good record of complying with relevant U.S. laws and regulations and providing telecommunication services and solutions as a reliable partner of its customers in the past two decades.”  

It is worth mentioning that the agency first opened an investigation into China Unicom Americas in March 2021, especially after failing several times to make its case about the security of its operations. This happened after input from national security authorities; the Commission deemed it necessary to take action, explained FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel.   

The telco has been operating in the U.S. for the past 20 years.  

“We believe it is clear the public interest is no longer served by China Unicom Americas’ retention of its authority,” Rosenworcel said. She added that the Chinese telecom company must discontinue its services in the U.S. within 60 days.  

“China Unicom Americas simply cannot be trusted” to operate in the U.S., Democratic Commissioner Geoffrey Starks commented.  

The agency, in October 2021, voted to revoke China Telecom Americas Corp.’s domestic and international authorizations, quoting the U.S. subsidiary of the Chinese enterprise as a risk to national security as it would “highly likely” comply with Chinese government requests.  

However, during 2020, President Donald Trump’s administration began an embargo on mainly Chinese companies, designating major telecom carriers including Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. and ZTE Corp. as national security threats. The move prohibited using an agency subsidy fund to buy or support equipment or services provided by the companies.