FCC moves against Huawei, ZTE
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on Friday voted unanimously to bar U.S. telecommunications companies from using FCC funds to purchase equipment from companies posing national security threats, including Chinese telecom groups Huawei and ZTE.
The proposals approved by the agency bar businesses from using money from the FCC’s $8.5 billion Universal Service Fund (USF) to purchase technology from companies that pose a threat, and formally designated Huawei and ZTE as threats.
The proposals also suggest that U.S. companies that receive funding from the USF be required to rip out and replace all equipment from ZTE and Huawei, and seeks comment from the public on how to pay for this process.
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, who put forward the proposals in October, said that the FCC was taking these actions “based on evidence in the record, as well as long-standing concerns from the executive and legislative branches, about the national security threats posed by certain foreign communications equipment manufacturers, most particularly Huawei and ZTE.”
“Given the threats posed by both Huawei and ZTE to America’s security, and our 5G future, this FCC will not sit idly by and hope for the best,” Pai said.
While the vote was unanimous, FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, who was appointed by former President Obama, noted that the commission “has more work to do when it comes to network security,” and pushed for the creation of a “national strategy” to manage threats to the grid.
Rosenworcel also criticized the possibility that Huawei and ZTE could be used as part of ongoing trade negotiations between the U.S. and China, saying that if the U.S. backs down on taking action against Huawei and ZTE, “it will have serious consequences for our credibility.”
Huawei pushed back strongly against the FCC’s decision on Friday, with the company writing in a statement that its designation as a national security threat was “based on selective information, innuendo, and mistaken assumptions,” and added that it believes the order is “unlawful” as the FCC “provides no evidence that Huawei poses a security risk.”