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China Telecom plans to continue some U.S. services after FCC revokes authorization

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FILE PHOTO: Signage is seen at the headquarters of the Federal Communications Commission in Washington, D.C.
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By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - China Telecom's U.S. unit said Wednesday it plans to continue providing some services in the United States in 2022 after a U.S. regulator revoked its authorization to operate telecommunications in the country, citing national security.

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in October voted to revoke the authorization. The FCC said China Telecom (Americas) (CTA) "is subject to exploitation, influence and control by the Chinese government."

In a letter to the FCC, the company said the services it intends to continue do not fall under the FCC's order requiring a halt to its common carrier operations. CTA argued that the services qualify as private carrier.

CTA offers consumers mobile service under the brand name "CTExcel." The FCC said CTExcel customers needed to switch to a new provider by Jan. 3.

A CTA spokesperson said Wednesday the company "will continue to operate its private carrier business in the U.S. after the January 3rd deadline."

Earlier this month, a federal appeals court declined CTA's emergency bid to halt the FCC order.

In a letter to FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel dated Monday and made public Wednesday, a lawyer for China Telecom (Americas) said the FCC rejected its requests to meet and the company planned to continue some services after Jan. 3.

"Absent a final factual determination and decision" from the FCC, the company intends to continue offering some services "on a private carrier basis ... to honor its contractual obligations and avoid undue disruption to its customers' operations."

Rosenworcel's office did not immediately comment.

China Telecom, which had been authorized for 20 years to provide U.S. telecommunications services, had more than 335 million subscribers worldwide in 2019. It also provides services to Chinese government facilities in the United States.

In March, the FCC began efforts to revoke the authorization for China Unicom Americas, Pacific Networks and its wholly owned subsidiary ComNet to provide U.S. telecommunications services.

(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

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