- The Federal Communications Commission on Friday unanimously voted to ban U.S. sales and imports of Huawei and ZTE telecommunications equipment. The ban extends to Hytera, Hikvision, Dahua and subsidiaries and affiliates of all China-based companies targeted in the order.
- The rules, which prohibit FCC authorization of equipment and services deemed a national security threat, follow a yearslong effort by the agency and multiple branches of the U.S. government to curb the use of equipment made by companies based in China with ties to the Chinese government and military.
- The ban primarily targets equipment used for network infrastructure, public safety and the surveillance of government facilities and critical infrastructure.
Multiple administrations have claimed hardware and software made in China poses a national security risk, but efforts to ban the use of such equipment didn’t begin in earnest until 2018 when the transition to 5G got underway.
The FCC order is the latest in a long line of steps taken by the federal regulatory agency to enact legislation passed in Congress and formalize policies established by the White House.
“While we’ve flagged equipment as posing a national security risk, prohibited companies from using federal funds to purchase them, and even stood up programs to replace them, for the last several years the FCC has continued to put its stamp of approval on this equipment through its equipment authorization process,” FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel said in a statement.
The stamp allowed such equipment to be imported and sold in the U.S. The import ban, which also covers phones, cameras, Wi-Fi routers and rebranded equipment, finally aligns the FCC’s equipment authorization procedures with national security policies, Rosenworcel said.
The FCC in July informed Congress the program to reimburse network operators for the removal and replacement of hardware made in China in their networks ballooned in cost to almost $5 billion.
That’s more than $3 billion over the amount previously approved for the massive program mandated in the Secure and Trusted Communications Networks Act that became law in the early weeks of the COVID-19 crisis.