Last week, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (“NTIA”), the President’s chief adviser on telecommunications issues, submitted a request to the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) for it to take certain measures which the NTIA anticipates will streamline the 214 application process. We have previously written about the 214 license application requirements for the provision of international outbound telecommunications services.

What are the NTIA’s 214 application process-related change requests and their anticipated implications?

  1. NTIA requests that the FCC obtain certain information regarding the applicant in connection with the initial application in those instances where the applicant has foreign ownership. Such information would include the applicant’s:
    1. Corporate structure and shareholder information;
    2. Relationships with foreign entities;
    3. Financial condition and circumstances;
    4. Compliance with applicable laws and regulations; and
    5. Business and operational information, including services to be provided and network infrastructure.
  1. NTIA requests that the FCC require applicants to submit certifications with the initial application, agreeing to the following:
    1. Establishing a point of contact located in the US for the execution of lawful requests;
    2. Compliance with the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act;
    3. That they will make available, in response to lawful requests, communications that are made to, from and within the US, and records of same; and
    4. Declaring that all information submitted is complete, up-to-date, truthful and acknowledge that failure to fulfill these obligations could result in license suspension, revocation or penalties, both civil and criminal.

Together, the NTIA believes that the enactment of these requested steps will allow for both a more expeditious review and simpler enforcement process. NTIA argues that FCC should obtain with the initial 214 applications information that is already requested by various federal agencies who seek to mitigate national security and/or law enforcement concerns raised by some applicants, cutting through potentially unnecessary red tape. Additionally, NTIA believes that by requiring 214 applicants to certify at the outset their understanding of obligations for compliance with various law enforcement cooperation rules, the FCC will be better positioned to revoke or terminate rights of licensees who fail to meet these legal cooperation requirements.

Obtaining a 214 Application License

We routinely file 214 license applications and similar state Public Service Commission telecom applications on behalf of our clients. As the NTIA request demonstrates, however, the processing time can vary depending on any number of factors including whether the applicant has any foreign connection or otherwise submits information that raises a national security or law enforcement concern.