FCC questions foreign ownership stake of T-Mobile

The FCC is looking into whether Deutsche Telekom, the German telecom giant that owns T-Mobile USA, has too much of a controlling stake in the carrier and whether that violates U.S. regulations on foreign ownership.

The Wall Street Journal reported that the FCC sent a letter to T-Mobile Oct. 17 advising them that regulators should have evaluated its 2001 acquisition by Deutsche Telekom under a 20 percent voting stock threshold. "T-Mobile USA's level of foreign ownership through the existing ownership structure appears to be in violation" of the 20 percent limit, according to the letter.

"The Commission strictly applies the 20 percent statutory benchmark of [the law], and has no discretion to waive it," the letter said. "Based on this ownership structure it appears that Deutsche Telekom, a foreign corporation, has a 30 percent, non-controlling interest in a common carrier license."

The letter gives T-Mobile 30 days to reply about how it can be in compliance with the regulation. T-Mobile has not responded to the letter yet, but said that a simple restructuring could resolve the issue.

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