Will U.S. citizens get their first 5G phones from Huawei or ZTE? Not if Congress has its way.
Over the past week, members of Congress have been getting tough on the two Chinese companies, formally identifying both as threats to national security following years of investigations. Today, Reuters reported that unidentified U.S. lawmakers asked AT&T to stop collaborating with Huawei on standards for its next-generation 5G network, and cut ties to Huawei altogether.
The report follows U.S. Representatives Michael Conaway’s and Liz Cheney’s introduction of the Defending U.S. Government Communications Act, a bill to bar the U.S. government from using or contracting with Huawei and ZTE, after a House intelligence committee report concluded that their products were insecure for government and military use.
In the works since well before a September House hearing on Huawei and ZTE, the Congressional actions appeared to coincide with ZTE’s claim at CES that it would launch its first 5G phone in the United States by early 2019 and AT&T’s unexpected decision to kill plans to start selling Huawei phones in this country.
Today’s report suggests that AT&T walked away from Huawei under pressure from government regulators, who were most likely lobbied by the same members of Congress involved in the investigation. It’s unclear whether or how much AT&T was collaborating with Huawei on 5G; the company was reportedly working with Qualcomm and Ericsson prior to announcing its end of 2018 5G network plans, but could easily have had other partners.
There is good reason to be concerned about the security…