Huawei Pushes Back On FCC Efforts to Bar It From U.S. Networks

Mark Schiefelbein/AP

FCC’s concerns Huawei is a Chinese spying tool are unfounded and based in rumor, the company said.

The Chinese telecom Huawei shot back Wednesday at a Federal Communications Commission proposal that would make it more difficult for telephone and internet companies to buy the company’s products.

The statement follows several months of claims by federal and congressional officials that Huawei is too closely tied to the Chinese government and might be a jumping off point for cyberattacks or spying on Americans.

“U.S. authorities have made a series of allegations against Huawei that simply aren't true,” the company said in an email to reporters.

The statement added: “No government agency has ever tried to intervene in our operations or decisions” and that “U.S. authorities should not base major legislative decisions on speculation and rumor.”

The FCC proposal would deny money from FCC’s Universal Service Fund “to purchase equipment or services from companies that pose a national security threat to United States communications networks or the communications supply chain,” Commissioner Ajit Pai has said.

The FCC’s $8.5 billion Universal Service Fund provides money to lower the cost of telephone and internet service in high-cost areas and to expand services to rural and low-income areas.

The commission is scheduled to discuss the notice of proposed rulemaking at an April 17 meeting. A fact sheet outlining the rule mentions congressional concern about Huawei numerous times but does not single it out for enforcement.

The fact sheet also lists the Chinese telecom ZTE, another likely target of the prohibition.

If the FCC adopts its proposal, Huawei said, “rural operators will have fewer options available to them, and the consumers and businesses that depend on them will have less access to quality and convenient telecommunications services.”

A 2012 report by the House Intelligence Committee described congressional concerns about Huawei’s and ZTE’s independence from the Chinese government and risks the companies pose to U.S. national security.

Those concerns ramped up again in February when Sens. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Tom Cotton, R-Ark., introduced a bill banning the companies and their partners from federal networks.

The bill followed a Homeland Security Department directive banning the Russian anti-virus company Kaspersky Lab from federal networks over concerns it could be used as a Russian government hacking tool. Kaspersky is currently challenging that ban and a separate ban imposed by Congress in U.S. federal court.