The “Team Telecom” review process of applications involving foreign ownership has long endured a reputation for excessive length and opacity. It appears change may be on the horizon. The National Telecommunications & Information Administration (NTIA) filed a letter (NTIA Letter) on May 10, 2016 with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC or Commission) requesting the Commission require applicants for certain authorizations, including international 214 authorizations and transfers, section 310 license ownership rulings, submarine cable landing licenses and satellite earth station authorizations, submit additional information and certifications with their applications. NTIA asserts that submitting this information and certifications upfront will streamline the Executive Branch agency review process. Today, those reviews are undertaken by the Departments of Justice, Homeland Security, Defense, Commerce, State, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and United States Trade Representative (Team Telecom).
In response to the NTIA Letter, the Commission released a Public Notice late last week seeking comments on NTIA’s request. The Commission suggested that any comments received would inform the Commission’s planned formal rulemaking proceeding. The FCC seeks comments on or before Monday, May 23, 2016.