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US Takes Another Step Toward Ripping Huawei Equipment Out of Country

Mike Dano
9/25/2019

A group of US representatives introduced legislation this week in the House that would allocate up to $1 billion to pay US telecom operators to rip Huawei equipment out of their networks.

Although it's by no means a done deal, the prospect of the US government funding the wholesale removal of the Chinese vendor's equipment from US networks appears to be growing more palpable.

Nokia, Ericsson, Cisco and other big telecom vendors would likely reap the bulk of that spending since they have been deemed a suitable alternative to Chinese vendors like Huawei, which US officials have argued represent a threat to national security.

According to Reuters, top Democrats and Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee said in a joint statement their new bill would protect the "nation's communications networks from foreign adversaries by helping small and rural wireless providers root-out suspect network equipment and replace it with more secure equipment."

The House legislation joins a similar push in the Senate, which allocates $700 million toward the effort. However, both the full House and Senate would need to send a unified version of the legislation to President Trump's desk before it could become law. Given the contentious nature of Congress these days, that's a tall order.

And even if the legislation is approved, it would likely take years for operators to actually remove Huawei's equipment. First they would need to register for the funds, then they would need to ink deals with suitable replacement vendors, and then technicians would need to physically replace Huawei's equipment. And legal challenges, a distinct possibility, could slow the process further.

Moreover, the new House legislation appears only targeted at wireless network operators. United TelCom, SI Wireless, Viaero, James Valley Telecommunications (JVT), NE Colorado Cellular, United Telephone Association, Nemont Telephone Cooperative and Union Telephone Company are among the rural wireless network operators that have said they use Huawei equipment. However, wireline provider LHTC Broadband recently told Light Reading that Huawei is one of its suppliers, so it's unclear whether US lawmakers will also provide funds to replace Huawei equipment in wired networks.

Mike Dano, Editorial Director, 5G & Mobile Strategies, Light Reading | @mikeddano

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