Following a blow last week by the Federal Communications Commission, Huawei shot back this week at implications that its networking equipment is used to spy on the United States.
Last week FCC Chairman Ajit Pai issued a statement, proposing a ban on the use of money from the FCC’s $8.5 billion Universal Service Fund to purchase equipment or services “from companies that pose a national security threat to United States communications networks.” The statement said, “Hidden ‘back doors’ 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.”
Pai’s statement doesn’t mention Huawei or ZTE by name. But these companies have been under attack in 2018 by U.S. government leaders who claim their networking equipment poses a security risk.
This week Huawei issued a statement saying allegations by U.S. authorities simply aren’t true. “We pose no security threat in any country,” said Huawei. “No government agency has ever tried to intervene in our operations or decisions. U.S. authorities should not base major legislative decisions on speculation and rumor.”
Since entering the U.S. market in 2001, Huawei hasn’t garnered big business with major operators. But it has won deals with rural telecommunications operators. Indeed, some of these providers have indicated in the past that Huawei provides healthy competition in a small field of telecom vendors.
“We are disappointed by the FCC’s proposal,” said Huawei’s statement. “If adopted, rural operators will have fewer options available to them.”
Huawei’s U.S. Troubles
It hasn’t been a good year for Huawei in the United States.
In February six top U.S. intelligence chiefs — including the heads of the CIA, FBI, and the NSA — told the Senate Intelligence Committee that they would advise Americans to not use the products and services of Huawei and ZTE. And U.S. legislators have introduced bills in both the House and Senate that would prevent the government from buying or using telecommunications equipment from Huawei or ZTE.
Pai will call for a vote on his proposal to ban FCC spending on questionable networking equipment at the Commission’s April 17 meeting.