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TIA Endorses FCC Action on National Security

Files Comments Regarding USF Subsidy Ban on Huawei and ZTE Products

WASHINGTON, D.C., June 1, 2018 – The FCC should ban the use of federal subsidies for products from suppliers deemed to pose a national security risk, including Huawei, and ZTE, said the Telecommunications Industry Association, the largest trade association for the manufacturers and suppliers of information and communications technology (ICT) products and services.

In comments filed today TIA supported the FCC’s proposal to prohibit Universal Service Fund spending on equipment from specific suppliers presenting a national security risk to U.S. communication networks.

“TIA strongly supports efforts by the government to address concerns regarding specific ICT suppliers deemed to pose a threat to national security,” said Cinnamon Rogers, TIA’s Senior Vice President of Government Affairs.  “The FCC has a key role to play, and we support the Commission’s efforts to carefully craft restrictions on USF spending.”

“As the first independent agency seeking public comment toward new rules to address this important problem, the FCC will set an example for other federal agencies and foreign allies tackling this threat.” Rogers added.  “We also appreciate the FCC’s recognition that improving supply chain security more generally is an ongoing process that requires work across the federal government in partnership with the ICT industry.”

In its FCC filing, TIA makes the following points:

The FCC should take immediate steps to ban the use of any USF dollars on products from suppliers of concern.

  • There is now substantial evidence that China and Russia have supported extensive and damaging cyberespionage efforts targeting the United States.  The U.S. government has increasingly focused on the risks posed by products from specific ICT suppliers believed to have close ties with those governments.
  • The FCC has a responsibility to safeguard a program it directly oversees.  Focusing on the Universal Service Fund would address an immediate problem while allowing the rapidly-evolving national and international conversation on these issues to continue.

Government actions should be carefully crafted to address the nature of security threats, employing a risk-based approach.

  • The government’s focus must remain on the trustworthiness of specific suppliers rather than supply chain management generally.  ICT supply chain management is best addressed through public-private partnerships and industry standards.
  • The United States should not impose blanket country-of-origin prohibitions.  Global supply chains and access to export markets are critical to the health and competitive standing of the U.S. ICT industry.
  • Restrictions should focus on specific types of products or components that pose a genuine security risk.

If appropriately tailored, the costs will be significantly outweighed by the benefits.

  • While government intervention in the marketplace should never be taken lightly, Huawei and ZTE currently have a very small market share in the United States.  Any effects on broadband deployment should be minimal.
  • The ICT marketplace is highly competitive, including large vendors that offer end-to-end solutions and small startups developing innovative new products.

The FCC should not bear the responsibility of identifying suppliers that pose national security risks.

  • National security determinations should be made by executive branch agencies with appropriate expertise.  However, that threshold has already been satisfied with regard to Huawei, Kaspersky Lab, and ZTE.
  • In a dynamically-changing environment, the FCC does not have the resources or expertise to continually monitor which companies pose national security risks.  Deferring to determinations by expert agencies would also avoid an inconsistent patchwork of restrictions.

Over the long term, an interagency process should be established to identify suppliers and products of concern.

  • Rather than naming specific companies in federal statutes, an interagency process should be established that depends on expert assessments.  Three more companies were specifically named in a major defense bill last week, and this ad hoc process is not sustainable over the long term.

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Contact

Ashley Simmons, 703-907-7704, asimmons@tiaonline.org

About TIA

The Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) is at the center of a vibrant ecosystem of companies delivering technologies and services to revolutionize the way the world communicates. TIA represents and convenes the manufacturers and suppliers, network operators, distributors, service enablers and system integrators of global communications technologies across its Technology, Government Affairs, Standards, and Business Performance communities. Tackling unique challenges faced by the ICT industry, TIA shapes the solutions that enable high-speed networks and accelerates connectivity across all markets. Learn more at tiaonline.org.