Crest Opposes Tyco Subsea Sale

Crest Communications urges FCC to reject Tyco's bid to sell fiber to VSNL, citing homeland security concerns

April 1, 2005

2 Min Read

WASHINGTON -- Citing significant homeland security concerns, Crest Communications Corp. urged the Federal Communications Commission to reject Tyco Telecommunication's application to sell its global fiber network to VSNL Telecommunications, a company owned by the Indian government and the Tata Group, India's largest civilian defense contractor.

"This sale of the last remaining global undersea cable network under U.S. ownership and control represents a direct threat to our nation's security," said Brian Roussell, Vice President for Crest Communications.

"By approving this sale, the FCC would be giving up U.S. control of this vital international communications artery, which accounts for over 85% of the total trans-Pacific submarine cable capacity. We would lose our ability to ensure safe, reliable, and secure telecommunications services that are essential to the U.S. military in a time of crisis."

In its Petition to Deny filed with the FCC late last night, Crest Communications said the proposed sale would "severely compromise the Department of Defense's net-centric warfare plans and threaten the security and integrity of military, intelligence, and other sensitive communications on the cable network."

"Net-centric warfare allows the military to communicate critical data directly into the right hands -- in real time -- while protecting the information from our enemies," Roussell explained.

But if the network being used to transmit this information is owned and controlled by a foreign government, the security, integrity, and reliability of the communications can't be guaranteed.

"The ongoing fire sale of vital national assets to foreign companies and governments must be stopped," Roussell said.

With Americans fighting terrorism across the globe, it is more important than ever that U.S. data transmissions be secure. Although the Department of Justice, Department of Homeland Security, and FBI have reportedly reached network security agreements with VSNL, experts say the agreements aren't sufficient for protecting all of the U.S.'s national security interests. What's more, the agreements stop short of ensuring the security of communications once the data crosses outside U.S. borders, and they don't include needed safeguards to protect U.S. military communications from illegal interceptions and wiretaps.

"Fiber optic systems are generally only as secure as their owners want them to be," Roussell said. "This deal would entrust the security of confidential American military and defense communications to a foreign entity substantially owned by a foreign government."

This transaction is under review by the Committee on Foreign Investment Inside the United States (CFIUS) in order to address the national security concerns. Given those concerns, the FCC should take these applications off their fast-track processing and ensure that they receive the full and careful scrutiny warranted.

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