Updated Nov 25, 2022 - Technology

FCC bans U.S. sales of Huawei and ZTE equipment over national security concerns

Illustration of a telecommunications tower with red "ban" signs over the satellite dishes

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

The Federal Communications Commission on Friday announced it adopted new rules banning U.S. sales and imports of new Huawei and ZTE telecommunications devices out of national security concerns.

Why it matters: The ban is the latest escalation in U.S. policy toward Chinese telecom equipment makers, which began during the Obama administration and accelerated during the Trump administration.

  • Other companies affected by the action include Hytera Communications, Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology and Dahua Technology.

Driving the news: "Today, the FCC takes an unprecedented step to safeguard our networks and strengthen America’s national security," Brendan Carr, the FCC's commissioner, tweeted on Friday.

  • "Our unanimous decision represents the first time in FCC history that we have voted to prohibit the authorization of new equipment based on national security concerns," he added.
  • Huawei said it had no comment. ZTE did not immediately respond to Axios' request for comment.

The big picture: Huawei and ZTE are two of the world's biggest suppliers of telecom equipment.

  • Countries including Canada, Britain and Australia have ramped up restrictions against the use of 5G technologies from Huawei and ZTE in recent years.
  • Huawei executives have previously said the company does not give data to the Chinese government and that its equipment is not compromised.
  • The company’s chief security officer Andy Purdy has also argued that a ban would hurt American jobs because it spends over $11 billion a year from American suppliers.

Flashback: The FCC was required to vote on the order within a year of the passage of the Secure Equipment Act, which President Biden signed into law on Nov. 11, 2021.

  • That law required the FCC to ban equipment sales by companies that pose an "unacceptable risk to the national security" of the U.S.
  • Carr in March 2021 called on the agency to close the so-called "Huawei loophole" which allowed companies to use private sector money to buy equipment from the firm because the FCC still authorized sales of its devices.

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