China Telecom and China Unicom interconnect should be reviewed, according to FCC
The U.S. Federal Communications Commission this week voted unanimously to deny an application from China Mobile USA, a Delaware-based subsidiary of the Chinese mobile provider, that would’ve allowed the carrier to interconnect to domestic networks and offer telecom services.
Commissioners called out security concerns, particularly the potential that China Mobile, which commissioners said is controlled by the Chinese government, could intercept U.S. communications and share that information.
This is just the latest in telecom as a proxy front for an ongoing trade war with China, which President Donald Trump amped up this week with an increase in tariffs on goods imported from China.
There are three carriers in China–China Mobile, China Telecom and China Unicom. China Telecom and China Unicom have interconnect deals similar to what China Mobile wanted. The FCC said those two arrangements should be reviewed.
Commissioner Brendan Carr said, “The evidence I’ve seen in this case calls those existing authorizations [from China Telecom and China Unicom] into question. For instance, the decision today cites reports that China Telecom has been hijacking U.S. traffic and redirecting it through China.”
He continued: “So it’s time for the U.S. to take additional action. Our national security agencies should examine whether the FCC should revoke those existing Section 214 authorizations, and the FCC should open a proceeding on those matters. Security threats have evolved over the many years since those companies were granted interconnection rights to U.S. networks in the early 2000s. Much if not all of the reasoning behind today’s decision appears to apply with equal or greater force to those legacy authorizations. Let’s ensure that our decisions from decades past don’t inadvertently endanger American interests.”
Ahead of the vote, FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai said, “Safeguarding our communications networks is critical to our national security. After reviewing the evidence in this proceeding, including the input provided by other federal agencies, 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.”