The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is moving forward with plans to restrict the use of telecommunications equipment from Huawei Technologies, ZTE Corporation and others in the deployment of 5G technology in the U.S.
Under the terms of a Report and Order issued in late November, the FCC now bars the use of monies from the federal Universal Service Fund (USF) to purchase equipment and services from companies that pose a national security threat. The Report and Order expressly designates equipment and services from Huawei and ZTE as falling under the scope of the ban, and also establishes a process to add additional companies to the banned list in the future.
In an accompanying Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, the FCC is also proposing that carriers receiving USF funds remove and replace existing equipment and services from companies listed under the Report and Order. The Proposed Rulemaking is seeking public comment on how best to fund the cost of the removal and replacement of such equipment.
FCC Chair Ajit Pai cited the close ties between the Chinese government and military apparatus and China-based companies like Huawei and ZTE as the basis for the ban. In a press release issued in late October that previewed the FCC’s action, Pai said “We cannot ignore the risk that the Chinese government will seek to exploit network vulnerabilities in order to engage in espionage, insert malware and viruses, and otherwise compromise our critical communications networks.”