Citing national security concerns, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration recommended the FCC deny a U.S. license for China Mobile to offer telecommunications services. China Mobile, which owns China Tower and is owned by the Chinese government, applied for a Section 214 license through the FCC’s International Bureau in 2011. Approval would have given China Mobile access to cell networks, wired telephone lines, fiber and communications satellites.
Per international licensing procedures, the Commission sought Executive Branch views on whether the application for the license was in the public interest. NTIA Administrator David Redl this week stated: “After significant engagement with China Mobile, concerns about increased risks to U.S. law enforcement and national security interests were unable to be resolved.” NTIA’s recommendation was made in concert with several other agencies such as the Departments of Justice, State and Homeland Security. They believe Beijing would use the telecom to spy on U.S. government agencies and businesses.
The action all but kills the Chinese company’s hopes of winning approval to handle Americans’ international calls, reports The Washington Post. NTIA said granting the request posed “an unacceptable risk to U.S. national security and law enforcement. This assessment rests in large part on China’s record of intelligence activities and economic espionage targeting the United States, along with China Mobile’s size and technical and financial resources.”
In its 2011 application, China Mobile said the Chinese government indirectly owned nearly three-quarters of the telecom. It sought access to the U.S. long-distance market. NTIA and the other agencies said that would give the carrier the ability to “target, alter, block, and re-route traffic” at the direction of the Chinese government.
The FCC is expected to consider the recommendation later this summer.
July 6, 2018