Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Rural telcos fear executive order banning Huawei tech

Many rural telecommunications companies are objecting to President Trump's tentative plan to issue an executive order banning certain Chinese telecommunications equipment, The Wall Street Journal reports.

"While the executive order would likely not identify companies by name, Huawei Technologies Co. is considered the prime target," reporters report John D. McKinnon and Stu Woo write. "U.S. officials say that Huawei has close ties to the Chinese government and could use its systems to monitor and disrupt U.S. telecommunications."

Rural telecoms, "many of whom have built their networks on low-cost Chinese gear, have been quietly lobbying against such a ban. The federal government and analysts estimate Chinese hardware makes up less than 1 percent of U.S. telecom networks, after Congress in 2012 effectively banned it from nationwide phone and internet providers." But many small carriers that account for little of the overall hardware account for a disproportionate share of the Huawei hardware.

Carri Bennet, general counsel of the Rural Wireless Association, told the Journal, “We’ve obviously been in touch with the administration to make sure they understand whatever they do in that [order] doesn’t have the unintended consequence of hurting rural America,” said. What nobody in the administration or government or Congress seems to have looked at is how pervasive is all this gear in our networks.”

"RWA’s members estimate it might cost from $800 million to $1 billion for them to replace all the potentially affected gear from their wireless networks—costs they believe the government is legally required to reimburse, the Journal reports.

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