House Committee Asks FCC Why U.S. Cell Phones Use Chinese, Russian Satellite Signals

The FCC allows U.S. and European satellites to provide connectivity, but not from China or Russia…

The U.S. House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party is asking Federal Communication Commission Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel why cell phones and other devices are receiving and processing signals from Chinese and Russian satellites in violation of FCC rules.

Committee Chairman Mike Gallagher, R-Wis., in a letter to Rosenworcel, said: “Current FCC rules permit mobile and other GNSS receivers to receive and process signals from GPS and any foreign GNSS that has been approved through a process the FCC adopted in 2011. To date, only the European Galileo GNSS has been approved.  However, we have become aware that U.S. mobile phones and other connected devices are receiving and processing signals from the PRC BeiDou and Russian GLONASS GNSS constellations, in violation of the FCC’s rules.”

A U.S. House committee is asking the FCC why Chinese and Russian satellite signals are being used in mobile phones and other devices (Image: Apple).

Gallagher also wrote that carrier and device manufacturers are using unauthorized signals because the United States is “woefully behind in its deployment and activation of its next generation of GPS satellites.”  He said that because Galileo provides a full constellation of advanced GNSS technologies, along with L5 signals from 18 GPS satellites, there is little need for the FCC to waive its own rules to allow unauthorized foreign signals.

In the letter, Gallagher contends that events in Eastern Europe, including significant jamming and spoofing of GNSS signals, “call into question and wisdom of accepting this workaround and suggest it is critical for the FCC to enforce its rules.”  He said it is particularly important because of recent Chinese cooperation with Russia in the Ukrainian war.

The heat is on China and other countries as the U.S. government is investigating Chinese connected cars and even TikTok.  Gallagher asked whether the FCC required further statutory authorities to address the effect of the unauthorized GNSS signals on national security.


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