FCC Seeks Comment on ZTE, Huawei Bans

The FCC is seeking comment on its initial designation's of Chinese telecoms Huawei and ZTE as subject to its ban on carriers using broadband subsidy money on suspect tech. 

The FCC will look to congressional enactments--like bans on government contract money--and guidance from national security and law enforcement in identifying other companies that pose a threat. The ban applies to tech in both wireless and wireline, though must of the suspect tech is in the wireless space.  

The Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau said late Friday (Jan. 3) that comments on the ZTE and Huwaei and ZTE initial designation are due Feb. 3. That was 30 says after publication of the designation order in the Federal Register, which happened Jan. 3. The FCC will then have 120 days after that Feb. 3 deadline to come up with the final designation. 

The FCC approved the broadband subsidy ban last November.  

By "suspect," the FCC says it means equipment, or services, that pose a national security threat to networks or the equipment supply chain, and said that ZTE and Huawei were the first to fit that description and would be subject to the ban after stakeholders were allowed to comment.  

Related: Commerce Releases Suspect Tech Vetting Framework 

The FCC is pondering exactly how to do a "remove and replace" program for switching out new tech, and will use the expertise it gained in the broadcast incentive auction equipment replacement program to inform that. 

The FCC is also proposing to adopt an information collection system to help identify eligible telecommunications carriers (ETCs) that have Huawei and ZTE equipment in their networks.  

FCC officials speaking on background said it already knows there are "a number of smaller rural wireless carriers" that use Huawei equipment, for example, but will use the comment period to get a better handle on that number.   

Related: President Moves to Block Deals for Suspect Tech 

Asked whether the FCC was contemplating extending the ban beyond USF fund recipients, an FCC official said remove and replace applies only to ETCs for now, but welcomes input on whether the ban should be broader. 

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.