FCC set to block China Mobile bid to provide US services

- REUTERS, WASHINGTON

Apr 22, 2019-

Federal Communications Commission chairman Ajit Pai said on Wednesday he opposes China Mobile Ltd’s bid to provide US telecommunications services, citing security risks, and said the commission will vote on whether to deny the company’s application in May.

China Mobile is seeking approval to provide services for phone calls between the United States and other countries. It is not seeking approval to provide wireless services to US consumers.

According to the FCC, China Mobile USA, which filed the application, is indirectly and ultimately owned and controlled by the Chinese government.

The five-member FCC is expected to back Pai’s draft order, officials said on Wednesday.

“It is clear that China Mobile’s application to provide telecommunications services in our country raises substantial and serious national security and law enforcement risks,” Pai said in a statement.

FCC officials said if successful China Mobile would be able to exploit the US “telephone network to increase intelligence collection against US government agencies and other sensitive targets that depend on this network.”

FCC officials told reporters on a call, “There is a significant risk that the Chinese government would use the grant of authority to China Mobile USA to conduct activities that would seriously jeopardise the national security and law enforcement interests of the United States.”

The comments come amid a broader US campaign to limit the role of Chinese telecommunications firms in the build-out of 5G networks as Western governments grapple with the national security implications of moving to 5G, which promises to be at least 100 times faster than the current 4G networks.

The Trump administration said last year that China Mobile wanted to be able to “interconnect and have greater access to telephone lines, fiber-optic cables, cellular networks, and communication satellites throughout the United States’ telecommunications network.”

China Mobile USA, which is a Delaware corporation, first applied for permission in 2011. The company sought FCC approval to provide international facilities-based and resale telecommunications services between the US and foreign destinations.

Published: 22-04-2019 10:14

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