The Federal Communications Commission’s proposed rule to restrict the use of Universal Service Fund dollars could make deploying broadband more difficult in underserved areas, company officials warn.
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai last week announced a proposal to ban USF funding from going to companies deemed national security risks — a move believed to be aimed at Chinese smartphone makers Huawei and ZTE.
Government officials and lawmakers have increased pressure on those companies, who hope to gain more access to the U.S. wireless market, due to their ties to Beijing.
But The Wall Street Journal noted that Huawei is also a top maker of telecom equipment worldwide — and that many of the smaller U.S. operators likely to receive USF funding to improve access in underserved areas have turned to Huawei equipment.
Officials added that restricting Huawei in the U.S. equipment market could prevent carriers from properly maintaining their current networks.
“Our margins are pretty thin,” Eastern Oregon Telecom CEO Joe Franell, whose company deployed Huawei hardware on its recently acquired cable lines, told the paper. “If you start dictating what kind of equipment I can use, it tips the scales.”
Pai, however, argued that the FCC should play a role in ensuring the security of U.S. communications networks. He said vulnerabilities in routers, switches and other equipment could enable “hostile governments to inject viruses, launch denial-of-service attacks, steal data and more.”
Filed Under: Industry regulations