China Telecom Americas Seeks Review of FCC’s Revocation Decision

A petition for review filed on Monday with the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals made known China Telecom (Americas) Corporation’s (CTA) displeasure with the Federal Communications Commission’s November 2 order revoking its authorization to operate as a domestic telecommunications carrier for national security reasons. In addition, CTA asked for an emergency stay pending review of the order, claiming that it will otherwise be forced to halt significant operations and will suffer irreparable harm to its business, reputation, and relationships.

The motion for an emergency stay recounted the steps taken to end CTA’s domestic operations, beginning in April 2020 when the National Telecommunications and Information Administration recommended that the FCC revoke and terminate CTA’s common carrier authorizations. CTA reportedly responded that any revocation proceeding must include an adjudicatory hearing before an Administrative Law Judge. In addition, CTA claimed that it submitted extensive evidence about its independent operations in the U.S. and refuted allegations of untrustworthiness.

In December 2020, the FCC instituted formal proceedings and rejected CTA’s hearing request. Almost a year later, the commission issued its revocation order, finding that the company is subject to exploitation, influence, and control by the Chinese government. 

CTA argued that by rejecting its request for a hearing, the FCC violated the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) and its due process rights. The company contended that it is likely to succeed on the merits of its claim because the November 2 order is both arbitrary and capricious and constitutionally unsound. 

With regard to its Constitutional argument, CTA asserted that in every other contested revocation under the same Communications Act section, the FCC has permitted an evidentiary hearing. By contrast, and in the case of CTA, the FCC adjudged a hearing unnecessary because there were no “substantial and material” fact-based questions warranting one.

Among other arguments, CTA contended that FCC Commissioners have spoken publicly about their desire to terminate its domestic operation rights. “Such statements challenge the Commissioners’ respective abilities to be impartial and otherwise cast aspersions on due process protections for businesses in similar  circumstances,” the filing said.

Finally, the company contended that the irreparable harm it will suffer dwarfs any conceivable harm caused by preserving its authority pending judicial review. Without relief, CTA must notify its customers about the service discontinuance by December 4, the filing noted. As such, CTA requested that the court act no later than Friday, December 3.

CTA is represented by Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP.