US telcos ordered to 'rip and replace' Huawei equipment

Huawei logo on a smartphone and flags of China and US on the blurred background
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has ordered certain telecoms companies to remove Huawei equipment from their networks as part of the process of revoking China Telecom’s authorisation to operate in the United States.

The decision is based on concerns relating to China Telecom’s and Huawei’s alleged ties to the Chinese government. In July, the FCC officially declared Huawei as a threat to national security, based on the company being subject to Chinese law which obliges it to cooperate with intelligence services.

According to FCC chairman Ajit Pai, the decision was made based on “a laundry list of evidence”.

“To summarize some of the main points, Huawei has a long and well-documented history of close ties to the Chinese military and intelligence communities, as well as the Chinese Communist Party, at every level of the company—all the way up to its founder. Huawei is subject to sweeping Chinese intelligence laws compelling Huawei’s assistance and cooperation with Chinese intelligence services and forbidding the disclosure of that assistance,” he said in an official statement, adding that the concerns “aren’t just hypothetical”.

“Independent entities have identified numerous security vulnerabilities in Huawei equipment and found it to be less secure than that of other companies—perhaps deliberately so,” said Pai.

In October, a report by the Huawei Cyber Security Evaluation Centre (HCSEC), which is directed by the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), found that Huawei failed to comply with “its own secure coding guidelines” during an incident that likely led to a vulnerability "of national significance".

Although the incident in question, which occurred in 2019, was remedied before it could be exploited, the number of Huawei vulnerabilities in the UK had “risen significantly” since 2018.

The FCC also announced that it would provide financial assistance to smaller telecom companies to facilitate the removal of Huawei equipment from their infrastructure, as part of the Secure and Trusted Communications Networks Reimbursement Program.

Huawei said in a statement that it “is disappointed with the FCC’s decision to force the removal of our products from telecommunications networks. This overreach puts US citizens at risk in the largely underserved rural areas – during a pandemic - when reliable communication is essential”.

Sabina Weston

Having only graduated from City University in 2019, Sabina has already demonstrated her abilities as a keen writer and effective journalist. Currently a content writer for Drapers, Sabina spent a number of years writing for ITPro, specialising in networking and telecommunications, as well as charting the efforts of technology companies to improve their inclusion and diversity strategies, a topic close to her heart.

Sabina has also held a number of editorial roles at Harper's Bazaar, Cube Collective, and HighClouds.