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U.S. Could Spend Up To $1 Billion To Make US Networks 100% Free From Huawei

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The FCC Commissioner, Geoffrey Starks, a Democrat, was confirmed by the Senate in January in that position along with his compatriot Jessica Rosenworcel to form the 2-3 minority in the regulatory agency. In an interview with CNET, Starks says that not only the U.S. should continue to prevent Huawei network equipment from being used to build 5G networks, but should also be removed from the old 3G and 4G pipelines.

Starks says that older networks that use Huawei equipment are so risky for the U.S. as 5G networks that contain Huawei equipment. Indeed, the Commissioner says that the U.S. needs to make sure that there is no security risk in current networks. The first, he says, is to find out how many operators have risk teams in their networks. An association formed by rural operators told the commissioner that they are the smallest rural wireless service providers that still have Huawei equipment in their networks. According to this association, a quarter of its 50 members have such a risky team in use today.

Once this is achieved, the next step is to determine what the depth of the problem is and how far it extends into the problematic networks. This would require finding out if the particular network uses the software and the Huawei code or equipment that should be prohibited. He further adds “Does it go to the core of the network, like routers and servers? Or does it extend to antennas and radios that go to the edge part of the network? We need to figure out which equipment has issues.”

The last step is to eliminate the equipment considered a safety risk. The Commissioner says that the best way to do this is simply tearing up and replace. For smaller carriers, which bought Huawei equipment because they were less expensive, they will need FCC funds to fund such a project. This would not be considered a rescue; Decisions to buy cheaper and cheaper Huawei equipment were taken by wireless operators in rural areas before it was clear that the Chinese manufacturer would be officially considered a national security risk. According to bipartisan legislation, the cost of removing network equipment at risk from Huawei and other vendors can cost between $700 million and $1 billion.

The Cost Of Removing Risky Equipment From The U.S. Networks Could Reach $1,000 Million

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US lawmakers fear that under the laws of communist China, Huawei may be forced to spy and gather intelligence on behalf of the government. And this has led many to suspect that Huawei products have hidden rear doors that can send consumers and business secrets to Beijing; Huawei has denied it several times and the company president, Liang Hua, has offered to sign a no-spy agreement with any country. On the other hand, the National Defense Authorization Act prevents the US government from buying equipment from both Huawei and ZTE.

“I know that there are carriers who have this Huawei equipment in their infrastructure. And I have received national security briefings on the threats that are posed by having Chinese equipment in such networks. There have been reports that in Europe folks have identified software code that was in Chinese equipment that they considered to be risky. So that’s the general nature of some of the threats that we’ve seen right now.” –Geoffrey Starks, commissioner, FCC

While the four main operators of U.S. don’t use Huawei in their networks, Starks says that if the U.S. has only one carrier with a security problem, ” then we all have a security problem”. Starks also says the FCC is considering withdrawing Universal Service Fund support for any operator with unsafe telecom equipment. The fund helps provide Internet and telecommunications services to low-income Americans and those living in rural areas.

Huawei is the largest provider of network equipment in the world, and several countries are still debating whether to ban their equipment on their 5G networks. So far, joining the U.S. in this ban are Japan, New Zealand and Australia.

(Via: CNET)

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