FCC takes further steps to bar Huawei, ZTE telecom equipment from U.S. networks

Nov. 29, 2022
The FCC has adopted new rules that prohibit the authorization for import or sale of communications equipment from companies, such as Huawei and ZTE, that have been deemed to pose an unacceptable risk to national security.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced an additional deterrent to the purchase and deployment of communications technology from Huawei and ZTE. The FCC has adopted new rules that prohibit the authorization for import or sale of communications equipment from companies, such as Huawei and ZTE, that have been deemed to pose an unacceptable risk to national security.

The FCC adopted the new rules as directed by the Secure Equipment Act of 2021. The rules pertain to equipment on the Covered List, which is a list of product and service types from companies deemed to pose threats to U.S. national security. Huawei’s and ZTE’s communications equipment is on the list. Other products and companies the order affects include Hytera Communications, Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology, and Dahua Technology (and their subsidiaries and affiliates). Some of the equipment on the list are surveillance systems.

Such technology can no longer be authorized under the FCC’s Certification process; such equipment therefore “cannot be authorized under the Supplier’s Declaration of Conformity process or be imported or marketed under rules that allow exemption from an equipment authorization,” according to the FCC.

The new rules address a perceived inconsistency in dealing with such technology, according to FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel. “While we’ve flagged equipment as posing a national security risk, prohibited companies from using federal funds to purchase them, and even stood up programs to replace them, for the last several years the FCC has continued to put its stamp of approval on this equipment through its equipment authorization process. So long as this equipment carries that stamp, it can continue to be imported into the United States and sold to buyers who are not using federal funds,” she said via prepared statement. “But that does not make any sense.  After all, there is little benefit in having these lists and these bans in place just to leave open other opportunities for this equipment to be present in our networks. So today we are taking action to align our equipment authorization procedures with the rest of our national security policies.”

Another brick in the wall

The move is the latest the FCC and various branches of the U.S. government have implemented to bar the importation, sale, and use of communications equipment from Huawei and ZTE (as well as products from the other companies mentioned above). The FCC has prohibited the use of public funds to purchase such products, while Congress has mandated that telecommunications equipment from the two Chinese firms be removed from U.S. networks. A funding program to offset the cost of replacing such gear has been created, although initial requests for funds significantly dwarfed the money available (see "U.S. Huawei/ZTE replacement program short more than $3 billion: FCC").

The FCC also has revoked the operating authorities for several Chinese carriers, updated submarine cable license approval procedures to better address national security concerns, and launched inquiries on IoT security and internet outing security.

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About the Author

Stephen Hardy | Editorial Director and Associate Publisher, Lightwave

Stephen Hardy is editorial director and associate publisher of Lightwave and Broadband Technology Report, part of the Lighting & Technology Group at Endeavor Business Media. Stephen is responsible for establishing and executing editorial strategy across the both brands’ websites, email newsletters, events, and other information products. He has covered the fiber-optics space for more than 20 years, and communications and technology for more than 35 years. During his tenure, Lightwave has received awards from Folio: and the American Society of Business Press Editors (ASBPE) for editorial excellence. Prior to joining Lightwave in 1997, Stephen worked for Telecommunications magazine and the Journal of Electronic Defense.

Stephen has moderated panels at numerous events, including the Optica Executive Forum, ECOC, and SCTE Cable-Tec Expo. He also is program director for the Lightwave Innovation Reviews and the Diamond Technology Reviews.

He has written numerous articles in all aspects of optical communications and fiber-optic networks, including fiber to the home (FTTH), PON, optical components, DWDM, fiber cables, packet optical transport, optical transceivers, lasers, fiber optic testing, and more.

You can connect with Stephen on LinkedIn as well as Twitter.

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