The US Senate has unanimously voted in favour of a bill that earmarks $1 billion for small telecom providers in a race to “rip and replace” equipment made by China’s Huawei and ZTE. The initiative, passed in the House late last year, has been sent to President Donald Trump for signature, with Politico reporting that the administration has already thrown its weight behind the funding.
“Telecommunications equipment from certain foreign adversaries poses a significant threat to our national security, economic prosperity, and the future of US leadership in advanced wireless technology", Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi commented on the bill in a statement.
He praised the legislation as the bipartisan - he stressed - steps that would “provide meaningful safeguards for our communications networks and more secure connections for Americans".
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) earlier barred US phone companies from making use of government subsidies to buy telecom equipment from the two Chinese companies - Huawei and ZTE.
The measure is understood to affect mostly small companies, based away from big financial hubs, because major US digital providers don’t use Chinese-made components, following Washington’s blacklisting of Huawei and sanctioning the company and its management.
Small phone companies complained at the time that it would be difficult and too costly for them to rebuild their networks rejecting Huawei digital components, to abide by the White House’s will - the complaint that effectively triggered the FCC’s move.
The US government has long accused Huawei, the worldwide telecoms giant and top 5G provider, of posing a security threat citing alleged “back doors” in its top-notch equipment that may purportedly serve the interests of the Chinese authorities. The argument has likewise been widely used to dissuade Washington's allies from doing business with Huawei: otherwise, the White House threatened to cut intelligence ties with them.
Beijing and Huawei’s top management have flatly denied the charges numerous times, welcoming the US to conduct a thorough independent check into its networks.