The US government appears set to reject a request from China Mobile for an operator licence in the US due to national security concerns, according Telecompaper. The National Telecommunications and Information Administration said it recommended the FCC deny China Mobile's request for a licence. 
The Chinese operator requested the licence back in 2011, and the FCC asked the NTIA, which coordinates telecom policy for the US government, to assess whether the licence was in the US public interest. The NTIA said that "after significant engagement with China Mobile, concerns about increased risks to US law enforcement and national security interests were unable to be resolved". China Mobile offered potential solutions to mitigate the presumed risk, but the NTIA found these were not sufficient. 
According to the NTIA statement, China Mobile is subject to "exploitation, influence and control" by the Chinese government, and in the "current national security environment" this would pose "substantial and unacceptable national security and law enforcement risks". In particular, the NTIA was concerned about China Mobile interconnecting with the US telecoms infrastructure, given the "importance and sensitivity" of that infrastructure for national security and law enforcement. 
China Mobile, which is the world's biggest telecom operator by subscriber numbers, said it was no more subject to government control than any US or other foreign carrier that employs global best practices. The NTIA disagreed, saying it considered it likely that China Mobile would comply with requests from the Chinese government. "This assessment rests in large part on China's record of intelligence activities and economic espionage targeting the US, along with China Mobile's size and technical and financial resources," the NTIA said. 
The US agency cited a number of government reports published in recent years that outlined cyberattacks backed by the Chinese government and the assessed risks to US security, and said it expects the risks will only increase over time. While noting that it had previously allowed licences to state-owned Chinese companies, it said the security climate had since changed and China Mobile's large size made it a particular source of concern.