August 5, 2020, 18:57

Rural US Telecoms ‘Stunned’ By US Gov’t Plans to Bar Funding Amid ‘Critical’ Time in COVID-19 Crisis

Rural US Telecoms ‘Stunned’ By US Gov’t Plans to Bar Funding Amid ‘Critical’ Time in COVID-19 Crisis

The major organisation representing rural wireless networks across the US made the announcement after US authorities ramped up tensions in the ongoing trade war with Chinese tech companies providing essential services amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it was revealed.

The Rural Wireless Association has slammed a decision from the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to designate Huawei and ZTE as national security threats and ban access to an $8.3bn Universal Service Fund used by IT equipment providers operating in the United States with ties to the Chinese tech companies, it was revealed in a statement.

The RWA said it was “stunned” by the decision, adding that rural carriers deploying Huawei or ZTE equipment and services would “lack the ability to support their critical networks” serving hundreds of thousands in rural America.

“Given the difficultly in demonstrating where specifically their USF support is being utilized in their networks, this puts rural carriers in a precarious situation while they strive to offer extended payment terms for their customers as requested by FCC Chairman Pai, adjust to the fallout of the T-Mobile/Sprint merger, and continue to keep rural Americans connected to broadband and telephone services during the COVID-19 pandemic,” the RWA said in a statement.

But the organisation ‘appreciated’ the opportunity to submit waivers to avoid penalties from the measures but requested “sufficient” time to submit them prior to the USF fund being cut.

FCC chair Ajit Pai designated Huawei and ZTE as national security threats on Tuesday, accusing the two tech giants of “close ties” to the Chinese Communist Party and “military apparatus”, but failed to provide evidence or going into detail.

Washington’s ongoing trade war with Beijing saw fresh tensions after the Trump administration extended a trade ban on Huawei, ZTE and over 70 other Chinese tech firms a further year in mid-May, with rules the entering force in September.

The US has routinely accused Huawei and other Chinese firms of spying for the Chinese government, which Beijing and Huawei have repeatedly and sharply denied as false while demanding to see evidence.

But former national security advisor John Bolton claimed last month that US president Donald Trump was using Huawei as a bargaining chip by exploiting perceived security threats to boost his position in future trade negotiations.

US President Donald Trump allegedly used Huawei Technologies as a bargaining chip for re-election in 2020, former national security advisor John Bolton wrote in his new book, according to the BI report.

Washington has not provided any evidence backing its claims to date, according to Huawei officials.

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