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Trump to sign order banning U.S. carriers from using networking gear from China

Posted: , by Alan Friedman Alan Friedman

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Trump to sign order banning U.S. carriers from using networking gear from China
In the U.S., some Chinese phone manufacturers like Huawei and ZTE are considered to be national security threats by lawmakers. The government has already warned allies not to use Huawei networking equipment for the 5G networks under development in their countries; the fear is that back doors are built into the gear, allowing confidential information to be collected and sent to the communist Chinese government.

Despite denials by Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei and chairman Liang Hua, the company was charged last month by the Justice Department with stealing trade secrets from T-Mobile.  The carrier already won $4.8 million in a civil suit against the phone and network equipment manufacturer for literally stealing parts of a robot called "Tappy" that the wireless provider used to test mobile phones. Now, the DOJ is charging Huawei criminally for stealing T-Mobile's technology.

The relationship between the U.S. and China has deteriorated partly because of the trade war between the two countries, and partly because of the constant attacks on Huawei by U.S. lawmakers. A report in Politico says that President Donald Trump, architect of the trade war, is expected to sign an executive order that will ban U.S. carriers from using networking equipment from any Chinese manufacturer. And to drive the point home, Trump is expected to sign the order next week, just before the Mobile World Congress (MWC) trade show in Barcelona. This year, the show will take place from February 25th to February 28th.

According to an anonymous industry source, "There’s a big push to get it out before MWC." The timing is designed to let the wireless world know that the U.S. is putting cybersecurity first. But Huawei remains the world's number one source of networking equipment, and major carriers around the world are now planning the build out of their next-gen 5G networks. The Trump administration wants other countries to follow the lead from the U.S. One source close to the administration says, "Contracts are going out now. Extra stigma could change the situation out in the countries on this major decision." Besides Huawei, ZTE also is a major producer of networking equipment, and the pair have both been branded national security threats by Congress since 2012.

In China, the country's telecom firms are mandated by law to help the communist government with their intelligence operations. That is one of the reasons why U.S. lawmakers worry about phones and networking equipment from China. Back in December, Germany's Deutsche Telekom and Japan's SoftBank both agreed to drop Huawei equipment from their networks. This was a condition that the Trump administration demanded in exchange for Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) approval of the T-Mobile-Sprint merger. Deutsche Telekom is T-Mobile's parent company while SoftBank owns the vast majority of Sprint.

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