FCC's Agit Pai Plans to Dissuade US Carriers from Purchasing Chinese Phone Products

article by Christina Williams
April 04, 2018
FCC chairman Ajit Pai is planning to dissuade US cellphone carriers from purchasing products made by Chinese companies, like ZTE and Huawei.

Pai explained his position in a statement:

Threats to national security posed by certain communications equipment providers are a matter of bipartisan concern. Hidden ‘backdoors’ to our networks in routers, switches—and virtually any other type of telecommunications equipment—can provide an avenue for hostile governments to inject viruses, launch denial-of-service attacks, steal data, and more. Although the FCC alone can’t safeguard the integrity of our communications supply chain, we must and will play our part in a government- and industry-wide effort to protect the security of our networks. “

He went to say that he was creating a proposal to prevent the Federal Communications Commission’s $8.5 billion fund. The fund, titled Universal Service Fund, is currently being used to buy services or products from any company. Pai believes that buying from every company could lead to national security threats and jeopardize the integrity of communication networks.

Pai addressed his concerns about the two phone brands in March and said he was adamant about taking steps to prevent security threats.

The FCC is currently allowing comments on the proposal. The FCC is specifically looking for comments on how they should identify national security threats. Another issue they are facing is how they should enforce rules that made to prevent risks.

One way that the Federal Communications Commission plans to maintain structure is by regulating the Universal Service Fund. The fund is built on small fees on the mobile phones of consumers around the United States. Once those funds are obtained, they are used to provide subsidies to companies that provide broadband internet to rural areas. If the FCC’s proposal is passed, operators who use technology created by Huawei or ZTE would lose their access to the fund.

The move comes after years of fear of cybersecurity and espionage. United intelligence agencies also have shared concerns about the two Chinese phone companies. Many of the agencies believe that using this phones puts the United States at risks for cyber-espionage. Six of the agencies released a statement dissuading consumers from buying the China-born brands.

“We’re deeply concerned about the risks of allowing any company or entity that is beholden to foreign governments that don’t share our values to gain positions of power inside our telecommunications networks,” FBI Director Chris Wray testified.”That provides the capacity to exert pressure or control over our telecommunications infrastructure.It provides the capacity to maliciously modify or steal information. And it provides the capacity to conduct undetected espionage.”

Clear evidence has not been provided to back up their sentiments. However, pressure from leading officials has caused several retailers to end business deal with the two Chinese brands. In March, Best Buy ended its relationship with Huawei. The phone company refused to comment on the issue, but said that had “won the trust and confidence of individuals and organizations in 170 countries around the world.”

Best Buy is not the first company to separate itself from the Huawei brand. AT&T pulled out from a partnership with the company in January. Verizon has also decided against selling Huawei phones.  However, United States consumers are still able to buy phones unlocked and use them on their network of choice.

 

Source: The Verge