The FCC will now shift its focus on existing Chinese carriers including China Unicom and China Telecom Corp.
In a significant development, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), voted unanimously to block China Mobile Ltd’s bid to provide communication services in the United States citing risks of espionage.
China Mobile is owned by the Chinese government.
In 2011, China Mobile sought approval from the FCC to provide interconnection services for phone calls between the United States and other countries.
FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr stated, Washington should ensure that other Chinese carriers including China Unicom and China Telecom Corp are also barred from operating in the United States.
The carriers could not immediately be reached for comment.
The FCC cited reports that state “China Telecom has been hijacking U.S. traffic and redirecting it through China,” in support of its decision.
According to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, “there is a significant risk that the Chinese government would use China Mobile to conduct activities that would seriously jeopardize the national security, law enforcement, and economic interests of the United States.”
He went on to add, “the Chinese government could use China Mobile to exploit our telephone network to increase intelligence collection against U.S. government agencies and other sensitive targets that depend on this network.”
FCC Commissioner Geoffrey Starks stated, “the national security environment has changed since those applications were granted” to other Chinese carriers. It is now a “top priority” to address national security concerns regarding other carriers.
Starks also noted that if the FCC had approved China Mobile’s bid, it “could even end up carrying the communications of U.S. government agencies” especially if it offered the least costly path to carry traffic on a particular route.