Huawei Continues to Push Back on FCC USF Tech Ban

Huawei, perhaps buoyed by Trump Administration reported easing-up on potential sanctions on the Chinese telecom, has "supplemented the record" in its fight against an FCC proposal banning telecoms with "suspect" tech from broadband deployment subsidies in the Universal Service Fund (USF) program.

It has been over a year since the FCC proposed the ban with so far no final item, though FCC chair Ajit Pai has said that was because the FCC was still trying to come up with a definition of the suspect tech whose inclusion in a network was off limits.

Smaller carriers, the ones often serving rural areas where closing the digital divide is a government priority, tend to be the ones with Huawei router and switcher technologies in their networks because it is cheaper.

Huawei said in an ex parte presentation to the FCC that none of the FCC's commissioners would schedule a meeting with it to discuss its argument that "banning particular vendors on grounds of 'national security' will actually do little or nothing to protect the security of America’s telecommunications networks."
It said that, rather, "forcing network operators to rip out and replace their existing equipment would pose a greater threat to network stability and security."

Huawei has been arguing its tech is central in the race to 5G.

"While Huawei has not been provided with the basis or any supporting evidence for the government’s adverse actions and is therefore handicapped to respond," it told the FCC, "one thing is clear – the USF rulemaking would significantly impair the operations of many rural carriers and put those carriers’ end user customers at risk of service interruptions."

Related: Huawei-Scrubbing 5G Bill Introduced

As if to put an exclamation mark on the value of its systems, Huwaei announced Thursday (June 13) that its core 5G network technology had just been awarded the "Best 5G Core Network Technology" Award at the 5G World Summit 2019 in London. The U.S. has been pressing the Brits to join in the effort to weed out suspect tech, but that has proved an uphill climb.

The Commerce Department last month announced it had put Huawei on a suspect company list that appeared to leave its future in the U.S. very much in doubt and the President at the same time issued an executive order blocking deals for suspect tech, like that of Huawei's.

But the Administration is trying to delay implementation, while Vice President Mike Pence, in an interview with Fox News' Bret Baier earlier this week, said both unequivocally that Chinese Telecom Huawei is a national security threat and also that it could be part of trade talks with China. That came after the President said Huawei might be a "chess piece" in ongoing talks with China about trade and tariffs.

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.