FCC ends program to remove and replace Huawei and ZTE equipment in the US.

In a unanimous vote Tuesday, the Federal Communications Commission finalized a $ 1.9 billion program to remove and replace equipment from Chinese telecommunications companies that the United States government considers national security risks.

The program is intended to subsidize the cost of small telecommunications companies in the US to replace equipment from firms like Huawei and ZTE in an effort to protect US networks.

To be eligible for the funds, US telecommunications companies must serve 10 million customers or less. That’s a higher threshold than the previous figure of 2 million or less in a previous version of the order. Eligible companies that obtained equipment from companies such as Huawei or ZTE before June 30, 2020 can request reimbursement for their replacement costs.

US officials have long complained that Chinese companies are in debt to the People’s Republic of China and collect confidential information on behalf of the People’s Liberation Army. The Communist Party of China has previously said that it does not engage in industrial espionage. Under former President Donald Trump, the United States added a large number of Chinese companies to its economic blacklist. These included the country’s top smartphone maker Huawei, the leading chipmaker SMIC, and the largest drone maker SZ DJI Technology.

In an effort to further isolate Huawei from China, the world’s largest telecommunications equipment maker, Trump lobbied US partner countries to deny Huawei access to their 5G networks. The Trump administration worked specifically to prevent members of the “Five Eyes” intelligence sharing group – the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand – from working with Huawei.

Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo previously described Huawei and other Chinese state-backed tech companies as “Trojan horses for Chinese intelligence.”

In April, the Biden administration added seven Chinese supercomputing entities to a US economic blacklist, citing national security concerns.

The Commerce Department added Tianjin Phytium Information Technology, Shanghai High-Performance Integrated Circuit Design Center, Sunway Microelectronics, Jinan National Supercomputing Center, Shenzhen National Supercomputing Center, Wuxi National Supercomputing Center and the Zhengzhou National Supercomputing Center to its blacklist. The seven entities were blacklisted for “building supercomputers used by China’s military actors, their destabilizing military modernization efforts, and / or weapons of mass destruction programs.”

“Supercomputing capabilities are vital to the development of many, perhaps almost all, modern weapons and national security systems, such as nuclear weapons and hypersonic weapons,” US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo wrote in a statement on March 8. of April.

Huawei USA Vice President Glenn Schloss said in a statement that the company was “disappointed” by the vote and called the program “an unrealistic attempt to fix what is not broken.”

“The FCC initiative only creates extraordinary challenges for shippers in the most rural / remote areas of the US to maintain the same high level and quality of service that they provide to their customers without interruption,” said Schloss, adding that the FCC was “using the policy in an effort to make a geopolitical statement.”

Representatives for ZTE and the Chinese Embassy did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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