In an action that the FCC hopes will “enhance opportunities for technological innovation and promote economic growth and potential job creation in the telecommunications sector,” the FCC approved a new flexible approach to indirect, noncontrolling foreign investment in common carriers. Under this new framework the agency will forbear from strict application of the statutory 20% limit on foreign ownership. Outlined in a Report and Order adopted last Friday, the new forbearance policy, in the words of the FCC, is intended to “ensure consistency in our treatment of foreign ownership in a licensee when the foreign interest is held through a U.S. organized entity, regardless of whether that controls or does not control the licensee.” AT&T, Verizon Communications, Vodafone and the U.S. Telecom Association were among a host of parties that endorsed the FCC’s forbearance plan in comments filed at the agency last May. Instead of strictly applying the 20% cap on foreign ownership, the FCC said it would “determine, in each particular case, whether proposed foreign ownership of a common carrier licensee is in the public interest.” Citing the importance of foreign investment as a source of equity funding for U.S. telecommunications firms, the FCC predicted that its new forbearance policy will boost investment by providing interest holders in FCC licenses with greater freedom and flexibility to structure their foreign ownership. The FCC further predicted that, in addition to facilitating new investment, the new rules will also reduce regulatory costs and burdens faced on common carriers and bring greater transparency to the agency’s filing requirements and review processes.