This piece was originally published in the National Interest.
In June 2020, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) formally designated Chinese telecommunications equipment manufacturers Huawei and ZTE as national security threats, effectively banning their equipment in the United States. “We cannot treat Huawei and ZTE as anything less than a threat to our collective security,” commented FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr. “America has turned the page on the weak and timid approach to Communist China of the past … and our efforts will not stop here.”
Now, the world is facing a new threat from telecom providers backed by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). But this time the threat resides not in cell phone towers, but in low-earth orbit.
The satellite internet industry has experienced a boom in recent years and competition is beginning to heat up. The CCP has selected its national champion and plans to launch nearly 13,000 satellites, with the intent of further expanding its influence in the developing world. If the United States and its allies are to counterbalance China’s growing influence and promote internet freedom internationally, it is imperative that the U.S. create a regulatory ecosystem that fosters domestic competition in satellite internet.