The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has effectively extended the deadline for public comments in connection with its plan to restrict the use of telecommunications equipment from Huawei Technologies and ZTE Corporation in the deployment of 5G technology in the U.S.
According to two separate Public Notices issued by the Commission in early January, interested parties now have until February 3rd to file comments in connection with a Report and Order issued last November which 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. That Report and Order initially designates equipment and services from Huawei and ZTE as falling under the scope of that ban and establishes a process to ban additional companies in the future.
Typically, public comment periods on Reports and Orders are limited to 30 days following their publication in the Federal Register. However, a summary of the Commission’s Report and Order naming Huawei and ZTE was not actually published until January 3rd, effectively extending the comment deadline.
Comments can be filed through the Commission’s electronic comment filing system (ECFS) (reference PS Docket No. 19-351 regarding Huawei, and PS Docket No. 19-352 regarding ZTE).
FCC Chair Ajit Pai has previously 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 last October that previewed the FCC’s Report and Order, 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.”