Will FCC’s new USF proposal limit exposure of Huawei and ZTE

Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is seeking comment on a proposal to prohibit use of $8.5 billion USF funds on the purchase of equipment or services from any company that poses a national security threat to the communications networks.
India telecom tower for 3G and 4G

FCC did not say the new proposal is aimed at limiting the exposure of China-based telecom gear makers such as Huawei and ZTE. Lenovo, another China-based networking equipment company, is also present in the U.S.

Telecom analysts view that FCC will not be able to point out whether ZTE or Huawei are posing issues to their national telecom network. Technology companies from Russia or its allies will also be under the radar of the telecom watchdog.

FCC seeks comment on the following issues: 

# How best to implement the proposed prohibition on the use of USF support going forward

# What types of equipment and services should be covered by the proposed rule

# How the FCC should identify, and how USF recipients can learn, which suppliers are covered by the proposed rule

# The costs and benefits of the proposed rule

# How best to enforce the proposed rule

Earlier, US president Donald Trump has blocked the planned acquisition of Qualcomm by Singapore-based Broadcom citing the same national security issues. America fears that China companies will pose threat to the wireless networks.

Yesterday, US imposed a 7-year ban on American tech companies on the supply of telecom equipment and components to ZTE.

Earlier, the U.S. administration said it wants to build its own secured 5G network to ensure that there is no compromise on its data network. In the wake of the ongoing tussle between Russia and China, America wants to limit the exposure of China and Russia-based tech cos on its soil.

Congress has earlier expressed concern about the potential for supply chain vulnerability to undermine national security.

Earlier this month, Department of Homeland Security acknowledged in a letter to Senator Ron Wyden that cell site simulators are being used in the nation’s capital, potentially by foreign or criminal actors.

These surveillance tools can transform cell phones into real-time tracking devices by mimicking legitimate cell towers and some may even have the technical capability to record the content of calls.

“If these reports are true, someone needs to explain how foreign actors are transmitting over our airwaves without approval from this agency. Someone also needs to explain whether the devices being used have been certified by the FCC,” FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel said.

Jessica Rosenworcel said threats to the nation’s communications infrastructure from certain equipment providers have been a longstanding concern of those in both the Executive Branch and Congress.

FCC is presently silent about its action plans on the use of same telecom equipments supplied to wireless operators such as AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile US.

AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile US control the American wireless market. Without imposing control over their purchase of equipments from anti-nationals, FCC cannot ensure full security to its telecom networks in the U.S.

Baburajan K