The US wireless industry came out swinging against a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) proposal to prevent companies using government funds to buy equipment from vendors deemed to pose a threat to national security.
In a flurry of filings, operators, vendors and industry groups blasted the idea, and urged the FCC to rethink it.
Huawei, one of the companies expected to be impacted by the ban, led the charge, calling the plan an “arbitrary and capricious” overreach of the Commission’s authority which relies on “unverified and unsupportable” allegations.
Implementation of the proposal, Huawei added, would “cause costs far in excess of any slight benefits”.
In a statement, Steven Berry, head of the Competitive Carriers Association, argued tying the rule to government funding would “create significant hardships on many carriers and would risk consumers losing access to wireless services entirely” while producing little effect on national security.
AT&T also chimed in, noting restricting the vendor choices of some market participants and not others could “distort competition” and potentially “do more harm than good”.
Industry group CTIA pointed out in a filing wireless networks are already built to be secure, with “numerous built-in protections” such as encryption and authentication standards.
Additionally, CTIA noted the wireless industry has long collaborated with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) as well as a number of other government agencies to mitigate “a wide variety of cyber and physical threats”. It asserted DHS is better positioned to lead supply chain risk assessments due to its “expertise, its access to classified intelligence information and its ability to protect the confidentiality of sensitive information shared by the private sector”.
The criticisms come in response to an FCC request for feedback on the proposal made during April.