On Monday, the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, Ajit Pai, announced that the agency would vote on an order prohibiting US telecommunications companies from using federal grants to purchase equipment from Huawei or ZTE, the two leading Chinese providers.
The proposal comes when Capitol Hill politicians continue to investigate US companies doing business in China, such as Activision Blizzard and even the National Basketball Association. If approved, telecom networks that currently use Universal Service Fund grants to purchase equipment should not use the funding to buy companies that "pose a national security risk."
"The concern is that hostile foreign actors can use hidden backdoors for our networks to spy on us, steal from us, harm us with malware and viruses or otherwise exploit our networks," Pai said Monday. "And there are more and more reasons to believe that the Chinese companies Huawei and ZTE pose an unacceptable risk to American national security."
Huawei did not respond immediately to a request for comment.
Pai's proposal would also force the government to investigate whether Chinese telecom equipment already deployed in USF-funded networks should be removed and replaced, which is a costly process that The edge previously reported providers in rural areas.
The vote will take place during the FCC Open Meeting in November.