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In unanimous decision, FCC bans new telecom equipment from Huawei and ZTE

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For years, even before 2019 when Huawei was placed on the Entity List and banned from accessing its US supply chain (including Google), the company was considered a threat to national security along with ZTE. The two Chinese phone and telecom equipment manufacturers were often accused of putting backdoors in their handsets and equipment that allowed them to obtain confidential information and send it to servers in Beijing. Both firms repeatedly denied the allegations.
Axios reports that on Friday the FCC announced new rules banning the sale and importation into the US of new telecommunications equipment made by both Huawei and ZTE. In a tweet, FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr wrote: “Today, the FCC is taking an unprecedented step to protect our networks and strengthen America’s national security. Our unanimous decision marks the first time in FCC history that we have voted to prohibit the authorization of new equipment on the basis of national security concerns.”
To be clear, the ban only applies to new equipment. Equipment that has already received FCC approval may still be shipped to the United States.

FCC President Jessica Rosenworcel added, “These new rules are an important part of our ongoing actions to protect the American people from national security threats related to telecommunications.” Huawei told Axios it had no comment and that ZTE has yet to respond. Huawei and ZTE are among the largest suppliers of telecom equipment worldwide. Last year, the FCC voted to spend $1.9 billion to remove Huawei and ZTE equipment already used by rural wireless companies.

The FCC was given a year after passing the Secure Equipment Act last November to vote on an order to ban Huawei and ZTE equipment. In addition to the two well-known names for phone enthusiasts, three lesser-known Chinese firms are involved in the order. These companies include telecom company Hytera Communications, surveillance equipment maker Dahua Technology and video surveillance company Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology.

Hikvision released a statement saying, “This decision by the FCC will do nothing to protect U.S. national security, but will do much to make it more harmful and costly to U.S. small businesses, local authorities, school districts and individual consumers. protect themselves, their homes, businesses and property.” The company will continue to conduct business with its US customers “in full compliance” with US regulations.

The FCC currently consists of four commissioners with two Democrats and two Republicans in the agency. The regulatory body usually has five members who are selected by the US president and confirmed by the Senate.

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