US President Joe Biden signed the Secure Equipment Act, a law which will prevent the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) from licencing radio equipment made by companies deemed national security threats.
Huawei, ZTE, Hytera, Hikvision and Dahua Technology have all been identified by the FCC as potential threats. The agency had moved to stop licencing their equipment even before the president signed the Secure Equipment Act.
The new law will impact not only cell tower radios and base stations, but also connected video cameras made by Hikivision and Dahua, which are typically used for on-premise security.
The FCC has asked for comments on a separate initiative which would require the removal of existing equipment made by these companies. The agency is currently encouraging removal of radio gear purchased with federal subsidies, and is reimbursing operators for the cost of replacing that equipment. Operators choosing not to replace the gear will be ineligible for future subsidies.
Several regional operators have already announced plans to replace Chinese radio equipment. Viaero Wireless will use Ericsson’s gear, Union Wireless will work with Nokia, and Triangle Communications has tapped Mavenir to help deploy an open RAN network.
Although the FCC’s reimbursement programme is often described as a “rip and replace” initiative, operators have noted the process will actually be “replace then rip” in order to avoid service disruptions.