China Mobile blocked from offering phone service in US

Joanna Estrada
May 10, 2019

U.S. regulators on Thursday denied a request by China Mobile to operate in the United States market and provide worldwide telecommunications services, saying links to the Chinese government pose a national security risk.

The company filed an application in 2011 to provide global communications services.

Commissioner Brendan Carr of the Federal Communications Commission speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at National Harbor, Maryland, U.S., February 23, 2018.

Washington has barred the Chinese networking equipment company Huawei from developing the new ultra-fast 5G mobile network in the United States and has blocked U.S. government purchases of its services.

China Mobile USA does not provide domestic services in the United States, an FCC spokesperson says.

Republican FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr also called for an investigation into other Chinese service providers that were previously given approval to do business in the US.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said the commission was "looking" at the authorization for those two companies, but declined to elaborate.

"Much, if not all, of the reasoning behind today's decision appears to apply with equal or greater force to those legacy authorizations", Carr said.

Pai added "the Chinese government could use China Mobile to exploit our telephone network to increase intelligence collection against US government agencies and other sensitive targets that depend on this network". In July of past year, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration along with other executive branch agencies suggested the FCC reject the application suggested the FCC reject the application, saying that China Mobile "would pose unacceptable national security and law enforcement risks".

President Donald Trump has repeatedly accused China of not playing fair on trade and hurting American companies.

The move comes as Chinese tech firms - such as Huawei and ZTE - have faced stiff resistance from United States government agencies, which have described them as security threats. The US is expected on Friday to raise tariffs on Chinese imports from 10% to 25%.

The vote come amid a broader USA 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. But US officials have gone further, pressuring other countries around the world to do the same.

The company has also been under fire as it faces a global U.S. campaign to blacklist Huawei over espionage fears. China is seen as a major threat to the United States in the race to develop 5G wireless technology, which promises faster speeds and more responsive networks.

The US was a leader in the development and deployment of 4G LTE technology, and it's reaped the benefits of that leadership.

Neither China Mobile, China Telecom nor China Unicom responded to a request for comment.

Pai said Thursday the FCC will examine the security of 5G infrastructure and technology.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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