FCC moves to ban Huawei from certifying wireless kit – what next?

The US comms regulator – FCC – has found another way to protect the country from the claimed menace posed by Chinese kit vendor Huawei.

Scott Bicheno

May 2, 2024

2 Min Read

It turns out that, despite years of creating specials rules and regulations designed to make the US a Huawei-free zone, the vendor is still able to participate in the FCC’s equipment authorization programme. Imagine their shock when they realised. Such an oversight must have been very embarrassing for the FCC, prompting a rare bipartisan response from Democrat-appointed Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel and Republican-appointed Commissioner Brendan Carr.

“Communications networks are a part of everything we do, and it’s why their security matters more than ever before,” said Rosenworcel. “So we must ensure that our equipment authorization program and those entrusted with administering it can rise to the challenge posed by persistent and ever-changing security and supply chain threats. I appreciate the cooperation and input from my colleague, Commissioner Carr, in moving this important proposal forward.”

“This proposal represents another significant step in the FCC’s work to advance the security of America’s communications networks,” said Carr. “It does so by proposing to ensure that the test labs and certification bodies that review electronic devices for compliance with FCC requirements are themselves trustworthy actors that the FCC can rely on.”

Security hawks may be wondering why the FCC was previously happy for these labs and bodies to be untrustworthy, but will be relieved by this very belated remedial action. Specifically Huawei’s test lab, which we’re told represents ‘a unique threat to the security and integrity of our nation’s communications networks and supply chains’ will no longer be allowed to play any part in the equipment authorization programme.

This proposal has now been put to the other commissioners for a vote, which is surely a formality. More important than this minor sanction is the potential thin-end-of-the-wedge it represents. If Huawei is not to be trusted in this context then what about the development of standards? It has long been feared that the tech cold war between the US and China will result in a split in the 6G standard and this move seems to make that more likely.

About the Author(s)

Scott Bicheno

As the Editorial Director of Telecoms.com, Scott oversees all editorial activity on the site and also manages the Telecoms.com Intelligence arm, which focuses on analysis and bespoke content.
Scott has been covering the mobile phone and broader technology industries for over ten years. Prior to Telecoms.com Scott was the primary smartphone specialist at industry analyst Strategy Analytics’. Before that Scott was a technology journalist, covering the PC and telecoms sectors from a business perspective.
Follow him @scottbicheno

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