back to article Telcos need another $3B in Uncle Sam's cash to remove Chinese network kit, says FCC

FCC chair Jessica Rosenworcel has warned US Congress that telco networks and service providers are not going to start projects to rip and replace kit made by ZTE and Huawei unless they are assured of federal reimbursement. The funding gap is significant, she told Senate Commerce Committee chair Maria Cantwell in a letter this …

  1. Avon B7

    Oh dear!

    Something telling.

    Despite huge efforts by the US administration, zero evidence to support the 'untrusted' claims has ever been produced. It's comical.

    It even went the extra mile and re-opened previously settled civil cases just to have something to wave around.

    When the Germans asked for evidence of a 'smoking gun' they were told none was necessary. That resulted in some rather terse commentary from some German officials.

    3,4 and 5G are standards based and certified. Three decades of presence in world ICT infrastructure has not revealed any deliberate wrongdoing.

    Huawei offered to licence it's entire 5G stack to any US entity or consortium that might have been interested. Source code. The whole thing.

    Just so the US would be able to compete.

    That offer was refused because this isn't about 'competition' in a classic sense. It's about hegemony, control and influence.

    The US got caught with its pants down on 5G and its importance. It literally entered panic mode and decided to totally break global supply chains in an effort to derail China's progress.

    The main target had to be the national champion: Huawei.

    It is now simply lashing out and bullying allies with direct and indirect threats. When the UK refused to ban Huawei, the US decided to escalate sanctions to the point that the UK doubted that Huawei would be able to deliver it's products. It went ahead with more extraterritorial sanctions that had a direct impact on several companies in sovereign nations. All without consultation of any kind.

    It is the US that has shown it cannot be trusted and that is the news that few want to speak about openly. The EU processor initiative was born out of a desperate need to reduce dependecy on US origin technology that can (and is) weaponised at will and without warning.

    1. Lars Silver badge

      Re: Oh dear!

      I wonder why Britain was called "long-term holdout" in this article.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Oh dear!

      Given how the Ukraine war has demonstrated Russia's reliance on non-Russian components and supplies for their war machine, the potential damage to western countries telecommunication systems from a sustained cold or hot war with China would expose similar flaws.

      Given China's aggressive behaviour towards its neighbours, do we just accept Chinas manufacturing strength means that the western world can accept that it is unable to respond if China acts because it is hamstrung by potential communication issues?

      No evidence should be required that basing all western telecommunications systems on Chinese vendors systems is a bad idea because it should be self evident.

      1. Avon B7

        Re: Oh dear!

        This is wrong. Open, standards based, interoperable communications are a plus, not a negative.

        What we don't want is an 'us vs them' solution.

        The so called 'threat' of Chinese 'intervention' is identical to the threat from anyone else.

        All the talk of back doors or kill switches is pure nonsense. You want disruption? Cut power supplies. Cut undersea cables. Block satellite access. All of those 'dirty' options are open to everyone. Nord Stream 2 is an example.

        The carriers no there networks. They know what is going where. They also have physical access to it.

        No other ICT vendor has its equipment scrutinised like Huawei. Literally no one.

        The 'us vs them' idea only exists because the US dropped the ball on ICT and has no native player on the field. The resulting logic is that the field must be dug up. If Qualcomm or anyone else from the US had influence over the world's ICT infrastructure, you can bet your last dollar that the US would be all for it.

        That is the reality.

        5G is MASSIVE and is just the start. Things won't really take off until 5.5G (just around the corner) but the uses and tools being developed and deployed now (on 5G) represent the groundwork for future plans.

        This is an industrial revolution and its happening now. Industry is reaping the rewards and China (with 5G already widely deployed) is quite far ahead on IoT, industrial IoT, smart manufacturing, smart mining, ports, airport, agriculture. You name it, China is using 5G to improve efficiencies.

        Next steps are obviously autonomous driving (already deployed at ports, mine's, airports, farms etc), V2X, XR...

        The US likes to see itself as technology leader and it is, but it is also a laggard in many areas. ICT is one of them. There is no real competition among carriers in the home market. Things stagnate as a result. 'Simple' things like payments are another. It took over a decade to get chip EMV into the US market. High speed rail? Nope.

        The US is so far behind in some areas but, in part, that is understandable. Manufacturing for example. Does anyone really think China won't be the beacon to follow there? V2X? Well, that authoritarian government will actually get things done far, far faster than any US initiative. And when autonomous cars (to whatever level) start populating that ICT-laden road infrastructure, they will export the model (and the cars, built in smart factories) to all those 150+ developing countries on the BRI (and the digital equivalent).

        ZE-IoT will make the network itself a sensor.

        You can now begin to see why the US wants to choke the life out of Chinese technology interests, but believe me, ICT security has nothing to do with it.

        It will threaten, bully and clobber anyone it has influence over but it will not work. Pushback, especially in the Arab world and Africa has already begun. Latin America is following suit.

        Then there is the BRICS situation.

        Mid-to-long term, things aren't looking great for the US but it only has itself to blame.

        The EU is quietly moving to reduce its dependency on US technology. Ironically, in terms of some strategic dependencies, the US is actually far, far more dependent on EU products than the other way around. Google EU Strategic Dependencies and you may turn up a document that is currently WiP.

        The situation with Russia obviously got out of hand but there is no doubt that China will benefit from that too. That is a clear example of US led foreign policy falling flat but that's another story.

      2. localzuk Silver badge

        Re: Oh dear!

        The issues facing Russia are somewhat different to the issue at hand here.

        All the kit that is being replaced uses standardised technologies that can theoretically simply be swapped with other kit by different manufacturers. So, a war with China would not be an issue in this way.

        A war with China would cause problems in other ways instead, not with existing kit.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Oh dear!

          The other manufacturers currently going out of business because they are being undercut by Chinese competitors?

          It's all ok until it isn't...

    3. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

      Re: Oh dear!

      You're not seeing it right.

      It's all about "what if" scenarios. The Chinese government could force any telco to work for it, just as the US forces its own telcos to. The Chinese government is hostile so that's reason enough to not want their equipment in infrastructure.

      That doesn't mean that an American hostile company is right for American infrastructure either. Think of the billions of dollars that could be saved if Oracle was on a no-buy list.

      1. CowHorseFrog

        Re: Oh dear!

        You might want to look at the social media platforms cooperating with the US gov...

        China has only copied and learnt from the US gov.

      2. Avon B7

        Re: Oh dear!

        I understand the 'what if' line but it doesn't make any sense.

        These are international standards and are interoperable.

        In over 30 years nothing of the kind has ever happened. Even with Huawei pumping international data over thousands of km of undersea cables.

    4. TheInstigator Bronze badge

      Re: Oh dear!

      Don't talk sense @Avon B7 - you'll make the natives restless and alarm them.

      All Chinese and foreigners in general are bad - there you go - that should make things back to the way they were.

  2. chuckufarley Silver badge

    And here we are...

    ...Just under a month from the worst US Financial crisis since 1929. When we default on our debts do you think the telcos asking for money will still have customers? The rural areas will be the first casualties of our governmental dysfunction. Our country has made promises and like Greece we can either live up to them or drag everyone down with us.

    1. fg_swe Bronze badge


      ...from Piter, eh ?

    2. Morten Bjoernsvik

      Re: And here we are...

      US can just print more money, they have the benefit of being the worlds default currency. and All the major lenders have all the interest in keeping the Dollar stable.

      march 2023 = $31,459,291,842,710.78 total debt / 334,721,373 population = $93986.50 per capita,

      Poor lenders that will never see their money:

      What happens if China just stop to lend US more money? if the Yuan becomes the world currency?

      Ramping up US inland production with Chinese financing that seem to be the answer. More Debth, more p#### of lenders.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    There is no evidence Chinese network gear has any security problems.

    The US just wants American gear installed that DOES have deliberate security issues/backdoors, which allow their spy agencies to spy on everyone else.

    Good on Germany for standing up to the US lies and bullying, and making themselves one of the few countries that the USA can't spy on!

    1. jgarbo

      The CIA owns the BND, and most German outlets have a resident "mocking bird" and the NSA hears and sees all. The The Germans will cave...

      1. fg_swe Bronze badge


        German politicians are dumb enough to let defence deteriorate to the point they must cry for Uncle Sam whenever Moscow or Ankara utters a threat. A case of childish pacifism, often nurtured by communist leanings.

        They will first lecture and then panic. Less rationality than Kindergarten kids.

    2. Paul Crawford Silver badge

      There is no evidence Chinese network gear has any security problems.

      Oh yes there is, just not the "back door" sort but the piss-poor standards sort:

      Flip side is Cisco, etc, are also regulars on the high score CVE list and often as piss-poor in terms of fixing things:

      So really it is currently a 1-1 draw in terms of being hacked. Of course a move to proper open-source / open-design with everyone independently and publicly vetting it would help but that is not going to get much in the way of corporate backing, or more to the point, campaign donations.

    3. TheInstigator Bronze badge

      If America spies on comms it's for global safety and security - if other countries do it - it's to ensure evil can flourish and this is why America needs to survive - they are the best part of humanity

      1. CowHorseFrog

        is this best part of humanity the same government that doesnt give free healthcare or forced paid maternity leave ?

        Is that the best ?

        1. fg_swe Bronze badge

          As Opposed To

          "being held like cattle without food an water, during an imagined 'virus' crisis" ?

      2. TimMaher Silver badge

        “best part of humanity”



    4. CowHorseFrog

      The US gov has done this trick many times in the past. Just look at the VW diesel thing etc, they go after European car manufacturers, but they do nothing to American manufacturers who produce significantly worse environmental trucks.

  4. Snowy Silver badge

    I wonder

    How much of that kit was installed after the American government started to dislike Chinese Tech?

  5. Tron Silver badge

    Nationalism and deglobalisation are expensive.

    As both are their dumb ideas, governments should pay up or shut up.

    Plan B. Just delay until 4G is phased out (producing a repeat of the vast amount e-waste that phasing out 3G created).

    1. fg_swe Bronze badge

      War Even More Expensive

      China has global ambitions and they are willing to use force to get what they desire. Don't be a fool.

  6. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    Yeah I wouldn't replace dick without full funding

    Yeah, I wouldn't replace dick without full funding.

    Avon B7 is spot on here, this is political posturing. The ZTE and Huawei equipment had intense scrutiny placed on it after it was suggested it may have security problems, backdoors, etc. The worst that was found was some messiness (like, some software will have up to date libs, some other software will be using older, out of date libs.) But the equipment from domestic vendors does this too (just like access points, IP cameras... basically everything but dekstop, notebook, server, and phone/tablet software.. where they tend to just get some kernel and libs that work then just keep using them forever unless there's some real reason to update them.)

    If they want to have companies ditch the ZTE and Huawei hardware, go ahead! But they can't expect to have companies do it for free, or have the gov't agree to pay half or something, when they could be expecting them to scrap equipment that has a decade or more of service life left on it.

    Lucky that it's only $5 billion -- Verizon has used Nokia, Erricson, and Samsung back to the 2G days. AT&T has too. I don't know if T-Mobile or Sprint used any ZTE or Huawei in the past, but in recent times Sprint was buying all Samsung at the point T-Mobile bought them out, and T-Mobile is using a 50/50 split of Nokia and Erricson on their 5G network.

    (For those who don't know, the 5G equipment uses SDR -- Software Defined Radio -- so the single set of 5G equipment can run 2G, 3G, 4G, and 5G, basically all the old kit can be scrapped. Verizon shut down their last 2G/3G at end of 2022 -- after delaying it twice from original end date of end of 2019. AT&T has had their 2G/3G shut down for several years. T-Mobile is running a skeleton 2G network for now, to scoop up contracts from whatever alarm companies etc. still have non 4G/5G equipment out there, but I'm sure that's using the 2G functionality of their 5G hardware.)

    1. fg_swe Bronze badge

      Control of Development Engineers

      Whoever controls the development engineers controls the number and quality of backdoors. Backdoors can be "explained" as programming errors. He also controls which security holes will be fixed, which not. He further controls whether a crashed system can be restarted or not.

      The Americans are right, it is a serious threat and it just shows how childishly naive the Germans as a whole are. They can be so naive, because they know they can always call in Uncle Sam.

  7. CowHorseFrog

    If people taking free healthcare is socialist, what do you call corporations taking billions from the government ?

    1. fg_swe Bronze badge

      Defence is always more or less collectivist in nature. The world is a bit more complex than Austrian Economics can explain.

    2. Ideasource

      What do you call them

      Commercial charity recipients.

      National parasites.

      Taxes are not for propping up of commercial gambles..

      They are for the support of the masses of individuals in home life.

      Such is the social contract taxation is built upon.

      All though, competence to the social contract appears to be one-sided with government being the failure

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