Chinese companies Huawei and ZTE Corp have been
designated national security threats by the US Federal Communications
Commission (FCC), citing the companies’ close ties with the Chinese Communist
Party and the military.
The United States took a new step in this direction after
the FCC’s ban in November 2019 on the use of universal service support to
purchase equipment or services from companies posing a national security
“With today’s Orders, and based on the overwhelming
weight of evidence, the Bureau has designated Huawei and ZTE as national
security risks to America’s communications networks—and to our 5G future,” said
FCC Chairman AjitPai.
“Both companies have close ties to the Chinese Communist
Party and China’s military apparatus, and both companies are broadly subject to
Chinese law obligating them to cooperate with the country’s intelligence
Both companies are at the forefront of the development of
5G technology, which has already been implemented by numerous carriers across
the world. The US has long maintained that Huawei and ZTE are providing the
Chinese government and military apparatus with backdoors that would let them intercept
While both Chinese companies have denied any wrongdoing,
Chinese law does state that companies have to assist in espionage activities.
The designation of Huawei and ZTE as threats to national security will have
immediate ramifications, as the money from the FCC’s $8.3 billion-a-year
Universal Service Fund may no longer be used to purchase, obtain, maintain,
improve, modify, or otherwise support any equipment or services produced or
provided by these suppliers.
It’s still unclear how many US carriers have started to
remove that technology from their infrastructure or how long it will take. It’s
also unclear what they are going to use for replacements, although there are
some alternatives to the Chinese-developed 5G technology.