The FCC is considering a rule to prevent telecoms from using public money to buy products from “companies that pose a national security threat to United States communications networks or the communications supply chain.”
“Hidden ‘back doors’ to our networks in routers, switches—and virtually any other type of telecommunications equipment—can provide an avenue for hostile governments to inject viruses, launch denial-of-service attacks, steal data, and more,” said FCC chairman Ajit Pai.
Companies managing networks would not be able to subsidize equipment purchases with a tranche of the FCC’s annual $8.5 billion Universal Service Fund if the commission deems the supplier a national security threat.
The Wall Street Journal first reported on the rule proposal. One analyst says that Ericsson and Nokia each account for 48 percent of the wireless grid in the United States with Samsung taking 3 percent. Huawei only has a sliver of the remaining 1 percent share.
Politicians from intelligence chiefs down to congressional subcommittees have been pressuring carriers and retailers to avoid doing business with Huawei, ZTE and other Chinese companies. Officials describe the Chinese government as posing the eminent cybersecurity threat in the information domain.
Huawei has reportedly lost device carriage agreements with AT&T and Verizon for its Mate 10 Pro under this spectre. It is not clear if Best Buy will stop ordering Huawei product stock.
Ajit Pai expects to raise a vote on the rule proposal on April 17.