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The Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Enforcement Bureau resolved two investigations into the América Móvil Submarine Cable System and imposed a fine on the company.

The Submarine Cable System connects the United States to two additional cable landing stations located in Colombia and Costa Rica without the Committee for the Assessment of Foreign Participation in the United States Telecommunications Services Sector’s (commonly known as Team Telecom) review or the required FCC approval.

The company admitted the violations; for this reason, LATAM Telecommunications and Puerto Rico Telephone Company will each pay a $1 million civil penalty and enter a compliance plan, informed FCC in a press release.

"The case deals with agreements to end the investigation initiated by the FCC, since it was an operational failure that has been remedied,” said América Móvil to Telecom Review Americas.

An undersea cable licensee’s failure to obtain prior Commission authorization before connecting and operating new international subsea cable landing stations circumvents Team Telecom’s ability to conduct a review for national security concerns as required by federal law and regulations, detailed the FCC.

“Undersea cables keep us globally connected and are an essential part of the digital economy.  But they can pose real security risks if the FCC and its national security partners aren’t properly given the chance to review where new cables may be installed,” explained FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel. 

“As recently described in the Bulk Sensitive Personal Data Executive Order 14117, international submarine cables that connect the United States to other countries are a key piece of technology that facilitates the voluminous transfer and use of sensitive personal and U.S. government information,” said FCC Enforcement Chief Loyaan A. Egal, who also serves as head of the FCC’s Privacy and Data Protection Task Force. 

Loyaan A. Egal added that FCC will also work closely with their national security partners and the Commission’s Office of International Affairs to identify and address unauthorized and non-notified transactions that implicate FCC licenses and U.S. national security interests.

The FCC investigation found that construction began on a cable landing station in Isla San Andrés, Colombia, in March 2020, which went into operation in September 2021, and a cable landing station in Puerto Limón, Costa Rica, in May 2021, which began operation in November 2022, with both connecting to the América Móvil Submarine Cable System. 

“Neither company sought FCC authorization until 2023, thus evading vital national security reviews and assessments, among other concerns, that the FCC, in collaboration with the Team Telecom Committee, considers when reviewing new undersea cable landing license applications, as well as requests to modify existing licenses.”