Briefing: FCC chair seeks to ban China Mobile from US, citing security concerns
Apr 18, 2019
What happened: The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairman Ajit Pai said on Wednesday that he opposed China Mobile providing connectivity and mobile services in the US, citing security concerns, and said the commission would vote on an order to deny the company’s application in May. “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. Therefore, I do not believe that approving it would be in the public interest,” Pai said in a statement. China Mobile, which filed the application in 2011, was not seeking to provide domestic cell service but international connections between the US and locations abroad.
Why it’s important: The denial of China Mobile’s application is without precedent, it also comes at time when the US battle against China’s expansion in the telecoms industry escalates. The Trump administration has banned equipment from Huawei, China’s largest telecom equipment company, over fears that the Chinese government could use it as a gateway to spy or disrupt western communication networks. The FCC also said China Mobile was indirectly and ultimately owned and controlled by the Chinese government and calls through the company’s networks “could be intercepted for surveillance and make the domestic network vulnerable to hacking and other risks.”