FCC Seeks Info on Huawei, ZTE Tech

The FCC has begun collecting info on technology from Chinese suppliers Huawei and ZTE, which it has tentatively branded national security threats.

The concern is that having suspect tech in a world of 5G and IoT could be an ongoing security problem. 

The information the FCC is requiring/requesting includes "whether carriers own or are using equipment or services from Huawei or ZTE; the type of such equipment or services; the costs associated with purchasing and/or installing such equipment and services; and the costs associated with removing and replacing such equipment and services."

Related: Huawei Says FCC Ban Could Be Unconstitutional

That follows its unanimous vote to propose requiring carriers getting Universal Service Fund broadband subsidies to remove and replace existing tech from those suppliers. That came at the same time it voted on a final order declaring that no USF money could be used on network buildouts with those companies' technology.

The FCC plans to reimburse carriers for the rip and replace, so the data collection is a way to help it identify the scope of the program and design the reimbursement regime, as well as to identify "any other potential FCC actions to protect the communications supply chain."

The reporting is mandatory for carriers in the USF program, but voluntary for others.

“Huawei and ZTE have been initially designated as threats to national security. Given that those designations may become final this spring, we are moving forward quickly to identify where equipment and services from these suppliers are embedded in our communications networks and, where they do have a foothold, to be in a position to help remove them,” said FCC chair Ajit Pai. “Today we’ve begun to collect the data we will need to protect our networks and protect the American people.”

While the info collection is voluntary for non-USF participants with ZTE and Huawei tech in their networks, the FCC has asked whether it may need to extend the ban beyond the USF program to other networks with imbedded national security risks, so it would be helpful for the FCC to know where that tech is, too, while it is collecting the USF-related data.

The commission has created this portal to collect the information.

“Huawei and ZTE represent clear threats to our national and economic security," said Mike Rogers, chairman of 5G Action Now and former chair of the House Intgelligence Committee. "Getting a handle on what they are doing and where they are within our communication networks is a critical step to mitigating the risks they represent. This is a smart step by the FCC.”

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.