Pai blocks China Mobile’s US licence

18 April 2019 | Natalie Bannerman

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Ajit Pai, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, has publically opposed granting China Mobile’s application to offer telecoms services in the US.

In a statement, Pai said that “China Mobile’s application to provide telecommunications services in our country raises substantial and serious national security and law enforcement risks”. Adding that he doesn’t believe that approving the request is in “the public’s interest”.

The Commission is due to vote on a order that will deny the application during its May Open Meeting, Pai hopes that his colleagues “will join me in voting to reject China Mobile’s application.”

The news comes almost eight years after China Mobile filed the application requesting authority under Section 214 of the act and Section 63.18 of the Commission’s rules to provide international facilities-based and resale telecoms services between the US and other international locations.

It was then in 2018, after a lengthy review of China Mobile’s application and consultation with the US intelligence community that the executive branch agencies recommended that the Commission reject the application on the grounds of ‘substantial national security and law enforcement risks.

Contained within the draft order shared by Pai, based on public record, indicates that China Mobile has not demonstrated that its application is in the public interest. In addition, its shows that China Mobile is vulnerable to exploitation, influence and control by the Chinese government.

According to details in the statement released by Pai, China Mobile USA though a Delaware corporation, is indirectly and ultimately owned and controlled by the Chinese government.

“Safeguarding our communications networks is critical to our national security,” added Pai.  

The news comes days after president Trump announced plans for the US to enter the 5G race. Under his proposed plans, the US will deploy 5G in 92 national markets, putting it ahead of Korea, which is on track to launch 48.

Pai echoed Trump’s sentiments saying that 5G will improve national competitiveness and improve the lives of its citizens.