"Senator, hopefully, the FCC will vote on Thursday to agree with my proposal to ban China Mobile from entering the US market," Ajit Pai, the Chairman Federal Communication Commission (FCC), told members of Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government during a Congressional hearing.
Responding to questions from lawmakers, Pai acknowledged that certain Chinese suppliers such as Huawei do indeed present a threat to the United States either on their own or because of Chinese domestic law.
"For example, China's national intelligence law explicitly requires any individual or entity subject to that law to comply with the request for the intelligence services," he said.
"That is the problem because especially when you are talking about 5G networks that are deployed in one country and could be managed by software that is resident in another country that presents some security risk I think and those risks to me are unacceptable when it comes to the deployment of 5G networks on our shores," Pai said.
Pai said that FCC during its open meeting for the month on May 9, will act to promote secure communications — a long-standing FCC priority.
In 2011, China Mobile USA, which is ultimately owned by the Chinese government, applied to the Commission seeking to provide international telecommunications services in the United States. Consistent with agency policy, FCC solicited the views of the relevant federal agencies on whether the application raised national security, law enforcement, or related concerns.
After a lengthy review of the application and in consultation with the US intelligence community, in 2018, the Executive Branch agencies recommended that the FCC deny China Mobile USA's application due to substantial national security and law enforcement concerns that cannot be resolved through an agreement with the company (called "voluntary mitigation").
"Notably, this is the first time the Executive Branch has ever recommended that the FCC deny an application due to national security concerns. Based on this recommendation and the full public record in this proceeding, I have determined that approving this application would not serve the public interest," Pai said.
"At our May meeting, the Commission, therefore, will vote on an order that would deny China Mobile USA's application," he asserted, adding that going forward, FCC will continue to use its statutory authority to protect the people and overall security of the United States.
That includes following through with its proposal to ban the use of money from the FCC's Universal Service Fund from being used by recipients to procure equipment or services from companies that pose a national security threat to our communications networks or the communications supply chain.
During the hearing, Senators expressed concerns over the threat being posed by 5G networks.
"I'm very concerned and fear that the US is falling behind on the race to 5G and we simply can't let that happen in this race with China. The 5G economy is going to lead to a breakthrough in jobs, information, connectivity. However, other countries are making four times more Mid-Band Spectrum available in the next few years compared to the United States," Senator Steve Daines said.
Mid-Band Spectrum will be a key component to make 5G a reality, he said. "We need to stop just talking about 5G and actually take some action and see some real solutions," he said.
Pai said the auction of 5G spectrum in the US will proceed in 2020. "In the meantime, we've been working with some of our other federal partners on things like the environmental sensing capabilities to make sure the deployments can occur as quickly as possible," he said.
The FCC, he said, will continue to secure the nation's leadership in 5G, the next generation of wireless connectivity. 5G networks will be 100 times faster than today's networks, maybe even more, he added.
"They will have lag times that are a tenth of what they are today. And they'll have much more capacity, being able to connect as many as one million devices per square kilometer," he said, noting that the work on 5G will open the door to new services and applications that will "grow our economy and improve our standard of living".
Smart transportation networks will link connected cars — reducing traffic, preventing accidents, and limiting pollution. Ubiquitous wireless sensors will enable healthcare professionals to remotely monitor your health and transmit data to doctor before problems become emergencies, he said.
"Connected devices will empower farms to apply precision agriculture. And there will be more innovations that we can't even conceive of today. These breakthroughs will boost our economy. One study pegs 5G's potential at three million new jobs, $275 billion in private investment, and $500 billion in new economic growth," he said.
Pai said FCC has developed a comprehensive strategy that will Facilitate America's Superiority in 5G Technology -- it’s called the "5G FAST" plan. It has three key components: pushing more spectrum into the marketplace; promoting the deployment of wireless infrastructure; and modernizing outdated regulations.
This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.