As of December 26, 2021, China Telecom Americas will no longer be doing business in the U.S. Citing security concerns, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued an order on Tuesday that prevents China Telecom from providing any domestic or international services in the U.S.
The move is a major blow for China Telecom because its mobile virtual network in the U.S. includes more than 4 million Chinese Americans, 2 million Chinese tourists a year visiting the United States, 300,000 Chinese students at American colleges, and more than 1,500 Chinese businesses.
However, it wasn’t completely unexpected. In 2020, the Executive Branch warned that it was considering shutting down the U.S. operations of state-controlled Chinese telecommunications companies, including China Telecom Americas.
Officials had offered China Telecom a chance to disprove the agency’s findings, and they established a process that allowed for China Telecom, the U.S. Executive Branch agencies, and the public to present any remaining arguments or evidence regarding the matter.
“The Federal Communications Commission has a long history of working to open American markets to foreign telecommunications companies when doing so is in the public interest,” Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said.
“These connections can make us stronger because they help share our democratic values with the rest of the world. But we also recognize not every connection is consistent with the national security interest of the United States. That’s because some countries may seek to exploit our openness to advance their own national interests. When we recognize this is the case and cannot mitigate the risk, we need to take action to protect the communications infrastructure that is so critical to our national security and economic prosperity.”
FCC offers to help China Telecom’s U.S. users
Fortunately for China Telecom’s U.S. users, the FCC is not leaving them out in the cold. The agency said it will help customers transition to other mobile service providers. Officials say they will issue a guide that outlines what other options consumers might consider for mobile services.
This document will be available in English, Simplified Chinese, and Traditional Chinese and made available on the FCC’s website.