FCC seeks comments from Americans over designation of Huawei, ZTE as national security threats

FCC seeks comments from Americans over designation of Huawei, ZTE as national security threats
Back in November, the FCC unanimously voted to block purchases of Huawei and ZTE networking equipment by the $8.5 billion Universal Service Fund (USF). Funded by fees charged to consumers on their phone bill, the USF is managed by the FCC and the money is used to help provide internet access to rural and low-income Americans. Huawei is the world's largest networking equipment provider and ZTE is the fourth-largest; both are considered to be national security threats by U.S. lawmakers which is why the FCC voted for the ban.

Since both Huawei and ZTE are Chinese companies, they are required to gather intelligence from American consumers and corporations if asked to do so by the Chinese government. This has led U.S. lawmakers to believe that the companies' networking equipment contains a back door that sends information to Beijing. While both firms deny this, the Trump administration is concerned as rural telecom firms look to update their networks. Since several of these rural firms already have Huawei and ZTE gear in their 2G, 3G and 4G networks, the FCC is considering a proposal that would force these operators to remove this equipment. The regulatory agency has already estimated that such an action will cost $1.89 billion over a two-year period. The FCC has requested data from these rural providers that details all of the gear purchased from the two companies from China that they are currently using.

Huawei and ZTE were named national security threats by a congressional committee back in 2012


Reuters reports that the FCC has given the American people until February 3rd to comment on the agency's decision to label Huawei and ZTE as national security threats. The FCC has said that it will review the public comments before it officially puts that label on the two manufacturers. Huawei has already filed a lawsuit against the FCC's decision to prevent the USF from purchasing its equipment.

Both Huawei and ZTE were named as national security threats by a 2012 draft report from the U.S.House of Representatives' Intelligence Committee. The committee suggested that Huawei and ZTE devices and equipment be banned in the U.S. Three years later, the Nexus 6P, built by Huawei in conjunction with Google, was sold in the states. And by 2017, ZTE was the fourth-largest smartphone brand in the U.S.


Things started going south for the pair early in 2018 when both AT&T and Verizon abruptly canceled their plans to sell the Huawei Mate 10 Pro handset. While never confirmed, there is speculation that a call from someone in the Trump administration forced the carriers to drop the model. Three months after that, the U.S. Commerce Department reinstated a seven-year export ban against ZTE. The company failed to follow penalties placed on the firm by the U.S. after it was caught doing business with Iran and North Korea violating U.S. economic sanctions against those countries. The ban ended after President Trump intervened and a settlement was reached.

Last year, in the middle of May, the Trump administration placed Huawei on the Commerce Department's entity list banning the manufacturer from accessing the U.S. supply chain it spent $11 billion on in 2018. The president claims that this was done for security reasons. As a result of the ban, Huawei's new phones are powered by an open-source version of Android and cannot run Google's core Android apps. That doesn't matter in China where those apps are mostly banned anyway but it has affected global sales of newer models. Despite the ban, Huawei most likely shipped 230-240 million handsets last year thanks to extremely strong demand in China. This will make Huawei the second-largest smartphone manufacturer in the world behind Samsung and ahead of Apple. At the beginning of last year, Huawei had estimated that it would ship 300 million phones in 2019 so the ban has had an impact.

Is there any chance that U.S. consumers will respond to the FCC's invitation by asking that Huawei and ZTE no longer be considered threats to the states? And even if that were to happen, would the FCC give in to demands made by the public? From what we have seen of FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, we can't imagine any scenario under which the regulatory agency would change its mind about Huawei and ZTE.

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18 Comments

1. HildyJ

Posts: 344; Member since: Aug 11, 2012

All commenting will do is get you on a US intelligence list of suspect persons. No one has found a deliberate backdoor in Huawei or ZTE software, unlike the NSA's backdoor in Cisco's software.

3. meanestgenius

Posts: 22775; Member since: May 28, 2014

Agreed. Too many people here are in denial about these facts.

6. Fred3

Posts: 608; Member since: Jan 16, 2018

https://youtu.be/4ftoDlPVX9o Things like this is what concerns me about Huawei

9. meanestgenius

Posts: 22775; Member since: May 28, 2014

Looks like xenophobic and isolationist rhetoric to me, especially since Huawei hasn't been proven to have backdoors or do any spying for China.

14. Venom

Posts: 3966; Member since: Dec 14, 2017

I agree. Definitely doesn't seem xenophobic at all. I think that word gets thrown around too much especially when it comes to Huawei and the Huawei apologists trying to give Huawei a free pass.

17. meanestgenius

Posts: 22775; Member since: May 28, 2014

Let’s be real here: The only reason why you’re saying it doesn’t seem xenophobic is because I said it does. If I said “water is wet”, you’d disagree with me. Fact is, is does sound xenophobic, and only the Huawei haters and attackers and other xenophobic people would say otherwise.

13. Venom

Posts: 3966; Member since: Dec 14, 2017

That's a pretty bold claim. You sound like a paranoid conspiracy theorist. Of course the usual Huawei apologists are going to eat it up even though it sounds completely ludicrous and asinine to think that a US citizen will be on a suspect list just because they like Huawei devices.

18. meanestgenius

Posts: 22775; Member since: May 28, 2014

He’s not making bold claims, he’s telling the truth. Of course, only those that are in denial about the true nature of this country’s government and those that attack Huawei on every Huawei related article would feel that facts are completely ludicrous and asinine, especially since the U.S. government has done much worse to it’s own citizens.

2. Papa_Ji

Posts: 912; Member since: Jun 27, 2016

the world should ban each and every product from US.... We don't need a terrorist country... attacking small countries and killing innocent people... IRAN is now on there taarget

4. meanestgenius

Posts: 22775; Member since: May 28, 2014

I highly doubt that the FCC would change their decision even if an overwhelming majority of individuals spoke up in defense of Huawei and ZTE, and as already mentioned in comment #1, you’ll probably wind up on a watch list of suspected persons in the U.S. In the long run, Huawei will be fine even with not being able to do business with U.S. companies. They’ve already been taking steps to make that a reality. ZTE may survive as well, but to a lesser extent.

5. Alter

Posts: 237; Member since: Mar 25, 2016

I don't want to be mean but I'm tired of seeing that guys face.

7. Tomintexas

Posts: 1; Member since: Jan 04, 2020

This doesn't make sense since the cell phones for the poor program(obamaphone), in at one company, assurance wireless, was giving out cell phones made by zte. I know, because I had one a little over a year ago. I may still have an account with them, I dont know. Tom in texas

15. Venom

Posts: 3966; Member since: Dec 14, 2017

ZTE and Huawei made a lot of foodstamp phones. I remember some of them being sold in stores. Most of them were cheap and poorly made, a usual thing when it comes to Huawei build quality.

19. meanestgenius

Posts: 22775; Member since: May 28, 2014

“Most of them were cheap and poorly made, a usual thing when it comes to Huawei build quality.” If that were actually true, Huawei smartphones would have as many hardware issues as other OEM’s like Essential Google has.

8. Locked-n-Loaded

Posts: 114; Member since: Sep 13, 2019

Oppo Huawei Zte Xiaomi Asus Meizu Honor Realme Redmi Bring em ALL on! Open up the pathetic limited choice US phone market. Force Samsung to up their endless baby steps iteration game.

12. Sparkxster

Posts: 1260; Member since: Mar 31, 2017

To have that level of choice in the US would be amazing. Hope Huawei can be taken off the entity list and be able to use the play store again.

16. talon95

Posts: 1007; Member since: Jul 31, 2012

There's no way I'm trusting China, I don't even trust the US. Ban them, no doubt.

20. tedkord

Posts: 17511; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

What's the point of this? The everyday citizenry don't have access to the facts surrounding Huawei and its possible backdoors.

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