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FCC to ban Huawei and ZTE gear from federal subsidy program

FCC to ban Huawei and ZTE gear from federal subsidy program
Avishek Das/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty

The Federal Communications Commission plans to cut off funding to wireless carriers who use equipment that the agency says pose a national security risk.

The agency said Monday it will vote next month to bar operators that receive Universal Service funds from purchasing gear from companies, such as Chinese telecom gear makers Huawei and ZTE, which the national security agencies in the US say could spy on American communications. The agency will also require some rural carriers that receive USF funds to replace gear from equipment makers that are considered to be a threat. The agency is looking at ways to fund this rip and replace effort.

The main issue with Huawei and ZTE is its cozy relationship with the Chinese government. National security officials fear that equipment from these manufacturers could be used to spy on other countries and companies. In May, President Donald Trump issued an from US communications networks.

Huawei and ZTE have denied their gear can be used to spy or to compromise US security.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai first proposed in March 2018 barring companies that posed a security risk from receiving USF funds. But at the time, he did not specifically call out Huawei and ZTE. The fund provides subsidies to rural operators to build infrastructure in hard to reach areas of the country. It also provides funding to libraries and schools.

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