FCC Plans to Ban Sales of New Huawei, ZTE Equipment, Report Says

A ban, which still requires a vote, would mark the next step in government concerns over potential spying by Chinese tech firms.

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Andrew Blok is a former editor for CNET who covered home energy, with a focus on solar. As an environmental journalist, he navigates the changing energy landscape to help people make smart energy decisions. He's a graduate of the Knight Center for Environmental Journalism at Michigan State and has written for several publications in the Great Lakes region, including Great Lakes Now and Environmental Health News, since 2019. You can find him in western Michigan watching birds.
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Huawei and ZTE are reportedly facing a ban on new sales in the US.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The US Federal Communications Commission plans to ban sales of all new telecommunications devices from Chinese tech companies Huawei and ZTE, Axios reported Thursday. The draft order, if approved by the commissioners, would seemingly also cover video devices from three other Chinese companies.

If it gets the go-ahead, the ban would be an escalation in the US government's sanctions against those companies and against Chinese tech firms in general. In 2019, the FCC barred Huawei and ZTE from receiving any of billions of dollars in federal subsidies meant to expand broadband access in the US.

In 2020, the FCC labeled the companies a risk to national security for their close ties to the Chinese military and the Chinese Communist Party. At that time, the FCC raised concerns that using equipment from the companies to build out the US 5G network could make the US vulnerable to surveillance and spying.

On Thursday, the agency said its efforts in this area are ongoing.

"The FCC remains committed to protecting our national security by ensuring that untrustworthy communications equipment is not authorized for use within our borders, and we are continuing that work here," FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel told CNET in an emailed statement.

After restrictions proposed last year, a Huawei spokesperson called the FCC's action "misguided and unnecessarily punitive" and that "blocking the purchase of equipment, based on a 'predictive judgement,' related to country of origin or brand is without merit, discriminatory and will do nothing to protect the integrity of US communications networks or supply chains."

The move is part of a deliberate shift away from Chinese telecommunications companies by the Biden administration and the Trump administration before it.

Huawei and ZTE didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.