New bill aims to ban USA gov from using Huawei, ZTE phones

Terry Joseph
January 17, 2018

At issue are long-simmering concerns that Chinese technology makers will allow their government to install technology that could spy on USA users. The partnership between the two companies attracted unwanted scrutiny by USA lawmakers, who sent a letter with their concerns to the Federal Communications Commission in December, according to The New York Times.

LAWMAKERS are said to be trying to get telecoms giant AT&T to quit all commercial ties with Chinese electronics firm Huawei for reasons of national security. The deal was scrapped at the last minute, supposedly related to the Trump administration's hard line on Chinese investment in the U.S. Now, the representative for the state of Texas Mike Conaway has proposed a bill that would ban USA government agencies from using Huawei and ZTE devices.

The US government has also blocked a string of Chinese acquisitions over national security concerns, including Ant Financial's proposed purchase of US money transfer firm MoneyGram. Lawmakers are reportedly going even further, pushing the country's second largest carrier to cut more ties with the company. The deal was about the company being able to sell its new flagship Mate 10 Pro phone in the USA through their carrier. The phone is compatible with the "GSM" networks operated by AT&T and T-Mobile. As you've probably guessed, the bill was introduced soon after news about AT&T dropping the Huawei partnership due to political pressure made headlines.

Indeed, Roger Entner, an analyst with Recon Analytics, says going the "unlocked" route, leaves Huawei in the US with "dry breadcrumbs".

Conaway's bill introduced to Congress, proposed a ban preventing branches of the US government from working with service providers that use any equipment from Huawei or ZTE for security reasons.

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The new Huawei Mate 10 Pro smartphone, unveiled Tuesday at CES 2018.

Huawei was recently dealt a heavy blow with regards to United States support, and the situation may be about to get worse for the Chinese manufacturer. "We've proven our quality, we've proven our privacy and security protection". The US also isn't the only country to worry about the companies: the Australian government upheld a prohibition in 2013 that barred Huawei from bidding on work on the country's National Broadband Network.

Should AT&T, as well as any other United States firms not heed this request, "It could hamper their ability to do business with the USA government".

Neither of the companies offered official statements, but AT&T did tell Reuters that it's yet to make a decision on 5G suppliers.

Concerns over cybersecurity go beyond China.

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