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FCC proposes total, retroactive ban on all Huawei and ZTE kit in US networks

US communications regulator the FCC wants to significantly expand the scope of its ban on Chinese telecoms equipment.

A year ago the FCC designated Huawei and ZTE as national security threats and, as a consequence, barred federal funds from being spent on buying kit from them. This mainly affected smaller, rural providers who rely on state subsidies and, obviously, exerted no influence over those that don’t.

Now it’s proposing to impose a blanket ban on all such purchases, regardless of whether federal funds are involved or not, and it’s even thinking of revoking past ‘authorizations’. That specific use of language is telling as it indicates a desire on the part of the US state to further impose its will on the private sector by claiming power of veto over every decision it makes.

“Despite having identified security concerns with telecommunications equipment from Huawei and ZTE back in 2019, for the last several years this agency has continued to put its stamp of approval on this equipment,” said acting FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel. “In other words, we have left open opportunities for its use in the United States through our equipment authorization process. So here we propose to close that door.”

“Once an entity lands on our Covered List, there appears to be no reason why the FCC should continue to review its gear and offer the FCC’s seal of approval,” said Commissioner Brendan Carr. “Taking this step, as I first proposed in 2019 and then expanded on in March of this year, will strengthen our national security by preventing the further installation and use of insecure technology in our networks.”

“Back in 2019, I called for the Commission to examine its equipment authorization authority as a possible tool for improving our network security,” said Commissioner Geoffrey Starks. “Since then, I’ve repeatedly highlighted the need to secure our supply chain, particularly with respect to devices originating overseas. I’m therefore glad that we’re moving forward with these proposed rules and I look forward to the public comments. While I recognize that the issues are complex, we cannot continue to authorize, import, and use equipment from companies deemed to present a national security threat.”

Commissioner Nathan Simington didn’t need to try to exonerate himself because he hasn’t been at the FCC for long. All this banging on about 2019 does beg the question of why it took the FCC two years to act on these deeply-felt convictions, but presumably they’ll just blame Trump. Either way the precedent now seems to be set for the FCC to have even more power over US CSPs.

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6 comments

  1. Avatar Andy Tiller 18/06/2021 @ 3:30 pm

    Anyone seen any evidence of these security issues? I wish the US administration would just come out and say “we don’t like China’s growing global power so we are going to limit their economic expansion by banning their tech companies from selling in the US and bullying our allies into picking sides”. That would at least be honest.

  2. Avatar Pete pifer 18/06/2021 @ 5:35 pm

    The problem with Huawei is they can monitor and shut down traffic on the internet in a matter of seconds if they wish.
    This is a serious threat, in my opinion.

    • Avatar Andy Tiller 21/06/2021 @ 4:22 pm

      Why is that the trouble with Huawei and not with Ericsson or Nokia, or Cisco or Juniper, or any other company providing the equipment and managed services to operate the world’s networks?

      • Avatar happiman 21/06/2021 @ 9:36 pm

        If you open your eyes and read the history of Chinese Communist party, you will easily find out. If you don’t, it is sad but you’re already brainwashed. You cannot not go back to the normal lift. It’s too late.

        • Avatar Andy Tiller 22/06/2021 @ 4:11 pm

          Hello again Happyman! (if you actually are a man, not a bot). I know my Chinese history and am not naiive. I’m just questioning whether we really think China is the only country using global networks for spying, industrial espionage, government-sponsored hacking of foreign infrastructure, illegal surveillance of citizens… The answer is not to isolate China and fracture the global trade networks, inter-dependencies and institutions which have contributed to world stability since the end of WWII, but to acknowledge that the danger is everywhere, and deal with it as a global community with all the key players (including Huawei).

          • Avatar happiman 22/06/2021 @ 11:29 pm

            I know that you’re doing business with Chinese companies.
            German Nazi used to claim that it’s their right to persecute Jews, as evil CCP follows the same footsteps.

            You may make millions of dollars to support Chinese government projects. Just remember, what happened to Nazi and the suffering of Uyghurs people have to go through because of people like YOU.

            https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-china-22278037

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