back to article Huawei with you! FCC's American Pai proposes rip-and-replace of scary Chinese comms kit

Ajit Pai, chairman of the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC), has devised a two-part scheme to erase Chinese hardware from American telecoms networks. Firstly under the proposal, telcos would be forbidden from using any money from Universal Service Funds (USF) – a system of telco subsidies and fees overseen by the FCC …

  1. Dinanziame
    Meh

    Arse licker.

    1. Bite my finger

      Okay, fine, but we don't really care what you do for fun.

  2. A K Stiles
    Big Brother

    FTFY

    "And Chinese law requires all companies subject to its jurisdiction to secretly comply with demands from Chinese intelligence services. As the United States [does with US companies and US intelligence agencies]"

    1. Halfmad Silver badge

      Re: FTFY

      and UK law. In fact most countries have laws like this.

    2. LDS Silver badge
      Big Brother

      Re: FTFY

      I think the only big difference is that Chinese companies don't need to secretly complain.

    3. Vector
      Facepalm

      Re: FTFY

      "Chinese law requires all companies subject to its jurisdiction to secretly comply with demands from Chinese intelligence services"

      Does it not occur to Mr Pai (or anyone else in the US Gummint for that matter) that this would include the chip fabs (like TSMC) where virtually every bit of silicon tech in the world is manufactured?

      Not to give anyone any ideas, but if I were the Chinese, the last companies I'd target would be Huawei or ZTE.

  3. AIBailey Silver badge

    We need to make sure our networks won't harm our national security, threaten our economic security, or undermine our values. The ChineseUnited States government has shown repeatedly that it is willing to go to extraordinary lengths to do just that

    FTFY.

    It's not like Cisco kit isn't also full of bugs and backdoors, and the US government has, on many occasions, demonstrated that it's prepared to (often illegally) snoop on networks. 'cos, security or something.

    Offering to buy back Huawei kit demonstrates a push towards their policy of Buy USA. Leave 'em to it, and let the rest of the world get on with better or cheaper providers.

    This is a protectionist racket to ensure that Cisco gets as big a slice of the pie as possible, nothing more.

    1. Andy The Hat Silver badge

      "We need to make sure our networks won't harm our national security, threaten our economic security, or undermine our values. The Chinese government has shown repeatedly that it is willing to go to extraordinary lengths to do just that."

      Funny how they never have actual citations, as requested by other 'foreign powers', for that quote ...

      I'm trying to pick a hole in your replacement of "Chinese" with "United States" in the original quote and, based on "We" being one of several non-US Governments - the European Community being one - I really can't.

  4. hellwig Silver badge

    Shop Local

    Networks could continue to use any equipment already in place, but not make new purchases or spend USF dollars to maintain or improve that equipment.

    I don't see the problem with this as long as there are compatible U.S. made components.

    It's the same reason most police units in the US drive Chevy/Ford/Dodge. Why would you want your tax dollars to be funneled to Japan so that the cops can drive Camry's? If the government has to spend the money, the least they can do is re-invest it into the same society they borrowed it from.

    Now, if the choice was between a Nissan Z 300 or a Ford Fiesta, then maybe it's not the government's fault the US company isn't competing. I don't know where US companies stand on 5G development, but surely there's an option.

    1. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Shop Local

      If the government has to spend the money, the least they can do is re-invest it into the same society they borrowed it from.

      Have you ever checked just how much debt America has with China?

      1. Bite my finger

        Re: Shop Local

        China does buy a lot of US bonds, yes, but I fail to see why that should entitle them to be the preferred supplier for US Government purchases. There's an old saying that covers this:

        When you owe a man ten dollars, It's your problem.

        When you owe him ten million dollars, it's HIS problem.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Shop Local

          Oh, not to worry, they Chinese are dialling back that debt exposure because they don't want to lose that much money when they start flexing their muscles on the currency and energy market.

          The dollar is screwed, it will just take a few more years for that to become visible. However much fun it would be to blame Trump for it, that would not be entirely accurate - he merely accelerated the process with his boneheaded decisions.

          1. Bite my finger

            Re: Shop Local

            You forgot to make a case for your assertions.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Shop Local

              Ah, but that's the joy of being anonymous.

              Besides,

              (a) that data is out there for anyone who understands what drives currencies but

              (b) you do need to know where to look as I would agree it's not entirely obvious - the issues come a bit from left field (it surprised me too when I spotted it)

              (c) I'll write a proper article about it some day. Until then, keep looking. Consider it a challenge.

    2. jmch Silver badge

      Re: Shop Local

      "Why would you want your tax dollars to be funneled to Japan so that the cops can drive Camry's?"

      Because when you have a trade agreement with a trade partner, part of that agreement typically includes equal access to procurement (which is why, for example, government tenders in EU countries have to be issued EU-wide). In many public procurement cases, 'locality' of the supplier should not (sometimes by law, sometimes by policy) be given precedence, although in practice many times it is. The idea is that the taxpayer gets more bang for their buck and if a non-local supplier can deliver the requirements cheaper, they should be preferred.

      It's actually not that straightforward... awarding these contracts locally is certainly more beneficial for the locality even if it's more expensive, since money spent locally is circulated over and over in that locality. I don't understand the US cops driving Chevy/Ford/Dodge vs Toyota though, since those Toyotas are made in the US anyway

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Shop Local

        >"Why would you want your tax dollars to be funneled to Japan so that the cops can drive Camry's?"

        Value for money?

        And if you are a tax-payer in Detroit should your money go to a "US" non-union plant in S. Carolina?

        Should every city have their own car plant?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Shop Local

      "It's the same reason most police units in the US drive Chevy/Ford/Dodge."

      Dodge? You mean, the division of European Fiat-Chrysler? You need to update your patriotic bona fide :)

      1. big_D Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: Shop Local

        You mean the ones with all those security flaws and back doors?

        Mine's the one with the Jeep remote control in the pocket.

    4. Gerhard Mack

      Re: Shop Local

      The trouble is that the "compatible U.S. made components" are also made in China but have a much larger markup and cost 3x to 4x what the Chinese brands charge for a similar feature set.

    5. IGotOut

      Re: Shop Local

      Odd, could swear blind I'm working on sio called USA engines right now here in the heart of rural England.

      We're also about to start making V8's for another all American company.

      Got to love marketing to the masses.

    6. Kernel Silver badge

      Re: Shop Local

      "It's the same reason most police units in the US drive Chevy/Ford/Dodge. Why would you want your tax dollars to be funneled to Japan so that the cops can drive Camry's?"

      My wife has a Chevy - it was made by Suzuki.

    7. martinusher Silver badge

      Re: Shop Local

      > tax dollars to be funneled to Japan so that the cops can drive Camry's

      The Camry is probably made in Kentucky while the Ford is probably made in Mexico.

      The cops in our area -- both local and CHP -- have replaced their Crown Victorias with Police Interceptor Ford Explorer SUVs. These are 'assembled' in Chicago but where the components come from is anyone's guess.

      >I don't know where US companies stand on 5G development, but surely there's an option.

      AFAIK they're not in the running for any infrastructure gear. Given time they might be able to ramp up and become competitive but there's a serious shortage of engineers and we're not importing any (nobody in their right mind would come to the US on an H1-B these days unless they're desperate, we're not taking people from Iran and being Chinese can be like skating on thin ice these days).

  5. LenG

    Follow the money

    Why do I feel it likely that most if not all of any available rip-and-replace subsidies will end up the the pocket of the largest teleco's?

    1. Antonius_Prime

      Re: Follow the money

      "Why do I feel it likely that most if not all of any available rip-and-replace subsidies will end up the the pocket of the largest FCC Lobbyists & Pai?"

      Fixed that for ya. Even us Europeons know that Ajit's a huge Pai-le of excrement...

  6. iron Silver badge
    Big Brother

    When it comes to 5G and America's surveillance programs, we can't afford to take a risk and hope for the best. We need to make sure our networks won't harm our blanket surveillance of citizens, threaten our economic house of cards, or undermine our control of the proles. The opposition has shown repeatedly that it is willing to go to extraordinary lengths to do just that. And US law requires all companies subject to its jurisdiction to secretly comply with demands from the intelligence services. As the United States upgrades its networks to the next generation of wireless technologies – 5G – we cannot ignore the risk that that the public will be able to avoid the network vulnerabilities we planted in Cisco equipment in order to engage in espionage, insert malware and viruses, and otherwise spy on all critical communications networks.

    FTFY Pai-face

  7. jmch Silver badge

    "companies posing a national security threat..."

    Funny how they only became a national security threat when Trump started his trade war.

    Those in the UK and Germany who actually looked at Huawei's devices / software in very fine detail have found nothing deliberately wrong (buggy code is, alas, par for the course).

    The US just spouts platitudes but, of course, cannot point to any backdoors because there aren't any. meanwhile US is at the forefront of insisting everyone else creates backdoors for them to access

  8. chivo243 Silver badge
    Headmaster

    When it comes to 5G and America's security, we can't afford to take a risk and hope for the best.

    Who writes this stuff? Who proof reads it? Did a 15 year old write this?

    I hadn't heard Idiot Pai's name for a while, I thought maybe he fell off the face of the planet... Guess not.

  9. DontFeedTheTrolls Silver badge
    Coat

    The only thing surprising is that the FCC haven't claimed they're going to get China to pay for it.

  10. Blockchain commentard Silver badge

    What if they use (for example) South Korean kit and fall out with them in a few years. Will the FCC rip out that kit and replace it with someone else's? And if they get homegrown kit, what happens when no-one outside the USA buys it and the firm collapses?

    1. IGotOut

      Easy, they will create another security scare to block any other competitors hardware as well.

  11. batfink Silver badge

    Aren't there laws against illegal State Aid?

    that is all...

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm surprised that a bunch of IT people are so sanguine about the potential threat of Chinese-made infrastructure equipment to the US.

    Since Snowden, China has been equally suspicious of allowing Cisco gear on their networks, for the same reasons that the US is suspicious of Huawei and ZTE. Imagine the disruption that would result if Chinese routers had a secret remote kill switch; in the event of a conflict, that could be a massive tactical advantage. And of course, the same is equally true of US-made gear in their infrastructure.

    Remember, China is playing the long game in a way that democratic societies with non-command economies are unable to emulate. By building an amazing supply chain and becoming Sweatshop to the World, they have steadily eroded the ability of Western nations to manufacture high-tech products themselves. They require Western tech companies that manufacture in China to "share" technology with them. And starting in January 2020, non-Chinese companies will no longer be able to use private VPNs to shield their internal communications from the Chinese government.

    The Chinese have repeatedly engaged in deep hacking of US systems, and the relationship between the two countries has deteriorated in recent years. Yes, much of that deterioration is due to Trump's dick-swinging; but Chinese hacking, cyber attacks, and the long-term strategic moves noted above precede Trump.

    So yes, Trump is a dangerous idiot. Yes, Ajit Pai is a soulless shill who is completely in the thrall of his former employers. But that doesn't mean Chinese telecom equipment is not a potential threat to US infrastructure.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      So why doesn't this also apply to Lenovo and Motorola gear ?

      Because they have millions of US shareholders or simply because they don't sound as foreign ?

    2. Paul Crawford Silver badge

      You have a valid point that the US ought to be suspicious of other nations, but then you ask the question of where Cisco stuff (and most "USA company") is built? Yup, in China and or with Chinese made parts because it is more profitable. Sadly the US corporations have sold themselves and the USA's ability to avoid any foreign influence years ago for quick profit.

      Now if all of the brouhaha over Huawei had been backed with a demonstration of a back door, or if the USA could throw the stone of "secret gov coercion" without breaking its own FISA glass windows, we comentards would not be so flippant in mocking these moves.

    3. Alister Silver badge

      I'm surprised that a bunch of IT people are so sanguine about the potential threat of Chinese-made infrastructure equipment

      As a member of the Rest-of-the-World, I'm much more worried about the actual threat of American made infrastructure equipment, than I am about the potential threat of Chinese made kit.

      Oh, and Huawei are the acknowledged leader in 5G technology, there is nothing US made which comes close.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "I'm surprised that a bunch of IT people are so sanguine about the potential threat of Chinese-made infrastructure equipment to the US."

      Maybe because they are a tiny bit more educated?

      The US has always needed an "enemy" from the "Yellow Peril", to the "Red Scare" and back to "Yellow Peril". God knows why a nation built on freedom and the Christian faith needs to hate so much?

  13. JaitcH
    Unhappy

    "... Undermine our values ..." (No laughing back there)

    Until our hero Snowden opened our eyes, the Five Eyes or Echelon group were leading the way in amoral activity and breaking the law.

    No Government can be trusted, the only difference now is the cat is out of the bag and everyone but everyone now knows what they can and do daily.

    How many of us remember the headlines when the GCHQ leaked the fact that they were listening to Diana, Princess of Wales' 1992, 20-minute cell phone conversation between her and childhood friend James Gilbey?

    Spying on world communications was a British first of all world governments, not something we should be proud of.

  14. trindflo
    FAIL

    You have to hand it to Pai

    He can really get things done when it comes to getting the American public to pay more for less.

    Mendacious mountebank.

    1. Yes Me Silver badge

      Re: You have to hand it to Pai

      So will his next job be at Cisco?

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So how much is in it for Pai?

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Don't be misled by what's said.

    It ALWAYS comes down to money.

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