FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr said he applauded the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s passage of the Secure Equipment Act of 2021, which took place yesterday. He said the bipartisan legislation would strengthen national security and close what Carr called the Huawei loophole.
The committee marked up and reported to the House the legislation introduced by Republican Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) and Congresswoman Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.). The bill would require the FCC to update its equipment authorization process to protect against threats posed by entities on the Covered List, according to a statement from the commissioner. In March, Carr called on the FCC to take this step, and the Commission launched a proceeding to seek comment on the idea in June.
“I applaud Republican Whip Steve Scalise and Congresswoman Anna Eshoo for their leadership and work to secure America’s communications networks,” Carr said. “Their legislation would help ensure that insecure gear from companies like Huawei, ZTE and others can no longer be inserted into America’s communications infrastructure. We have already determined that his gear poses an unacceptable risk to our national security, and their bipartisan legislation would ensure that the FCC closes this Huawei loophole. I am very pleased that this legislation has advanced out of committee and look forward to its consideration by the full House.”
In 2020, the FCC adopted rules to require U.S. telecommunications carriers to rip and replace equipment provided by Huawei, ZTE, and other covered companies that pose a risk to U.S. national security, according to a statement from the office of Sen. Marco Rubio, (R-Fla.). Rubio and Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) introduced similar legislation in the U.S. Senate. “While that was an important step,” the statement reads, referring to the 2020 FCC action, “those rules only apply to equipment purchased with federal funding. The very same equipment can still be used if purchased with private or non-federal government dollars. The Secure Equipment Act closes this national security loophole.”
Scalise said, “This bipartisan legislation that I introduced with Rep. Eshoo strengthens our national security and sends a strong signal to the Chinese Communist Party that America is committed to securing our networks and protecting the privacy and safety of our citizens.”
Eshoo said that she has fought for more than a decade to address vulnerabilities in U.S. telecommunications infrastructure that directly affect national security. “Equipment made by Huawei and ZTE, companies linked to the Chinese government, increase the vulnerabilities of our telecommunication systems and put the United States at risk,” she said. “The Energy and Commerce Committee took an important step by advancing my bipartisan legislation that directs the FCC to prohibit U.S. telecommunications companies from using equipment manufactured by companies that pose a national security threat.”
Matt Mandel, vice president of government and public affairs at the Wireless Infrastructure Association, said that the bills would go a long way to ensure that America’s broadband networks remain secure and protected. “New cyber threats are relentless,” he said. “The federal government and industry must continue to work together to safeguard consumers and the networks we all rely upon. WIA looks forward to working with the Committee as these bills move to full House consideration.”
Don Bishop is executive editor and associate publisher of AGL Magazine.
Today, House Republican Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) and Rep. Anna G. Eshoo (D-Calif.) introduced the Secure Equipment Act of 2021 to prohibit the FCC from reviewing or issuing new equipment licenses to companies on the FCC’s Covered Equipment or Services List that pose a national security threat.
This legislation would prevent equipment manufactured by Chinese state-backed firms such as Huawei, ZTE, Hytera, Hikvision and Dahua from being further used and marketed in the United States.
As directed by Congress, in 2020, the FCC published a list of telecommunications companies deemed to be a national security threat, prohibited the use of federal funds for purchasing equipment made by those companies and authorized funding for U.S. telecommunications carriers to rip and replace equipment made by those companies. Yet, carriers can still privately purchase this equipment on the open market. The Secure Equipment Act adds an extra layer of security that slams the door on Chinese actors from having a presence in the U.S. telecommunications network.
“For far too long, we’ve allowed manufacturers like Huawei and ZTE – backed by the Chinese Communist Party – to have access to American networks, which has jeopardized our national security and threatened the individual safety of the American people,” said Scalise. “China must be stopped from doing further damage to our telecommunications network, and I’m proud to sponsor this important legislation with Rep. Eshoo to strengthen our national security and stand up to subsidiaries of the Chinese Communist Party.”
Eshoo said that, for more than a decade, she has fought to address vulnerabilities telecommunications infrastructure that affect national security.
“Sadly, in the intervening years, providers have invested hundreds of millions of dollars in equipment made by Huawei and ZTE, Chinese state-directed companies that sell compromised equipment,” she said. “Our legislation would further strengthen U.S. telecommunications networks by prohibiting equipment manufactured by entities that are a threat to our national security. I’m proud to work across the aisle with Rep. Scalise on this critical legislation to make our nation safer.”
FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr said that he commended Scalise and Eshoo for their leadership in securing America’s communications infrastructure.
“Their bipartisan Secure Equipment Act would close a glaring loophole that Huawei and other entities are exploiting today to place their insecure gear into our networks,” Carr said. “I applaud their work to eliminate the threats posed by this equipment.”
FCC Acting Chairwoman Rosenworcel said that the introduction of the Secure Equipment Act of 2021 is welcome news.
“This legislation will help protect our national security by ensuring that untrustworthy communications equipment is not authorized for use within our borders,” Rosenworcel said. “We’re not wasting time. Last month, I shared a plan with my colleagues to update the FCC’s equipment authorization procedures consistent with this effort. I thank Congresswoman Eshoo and Congressman Scalise for their work — having this policy written into the law will send a strong, bipartisan signal that the United States is committed to developing a market for secure 5G alternatives.”
Senators Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Ed Markey (D-Mass.) introduced similar legislation in the Senate last month.
Source: Office of Congressman Steve Scalise
FCC Commissioners Brendan Carr and Nathan Simington issued a joint statement in response to the settlement agreements the FCC announced on June 3 between the agency’s Enforcement Bureau and AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon regarding the carriers’ obligations to provide certified lifesaving 911 vertical location information within 3 meters:
“In an emergency, every second counts,” the statement reads “That’s why the FCC adopted rules in 2015 that can save lives by helping first responders quickly locate 911 callers. Through a series of decisions, the FCC required wireless carriers to identify the location of 911 callers within 3 vertical meters for 80 percent of all covered calls by April of this year. The full Commission determined that holding wireless carriers to this standard was technically feasible and would potentially save over 10,000 lives per year — including the lives of first responders going into harm’s way.
“So we were surprised and disappointed to learn through a news release that FCC leadership decided to relieve wireless carriers of their certification requirement. The FCC is letting wireless carriers off the hook in exchange for $100,000 and a promise to provide whatever vertical location information they may have — however inaccurate it may be. This agreement, negotiated without any input from our offices, is a bad deal for public safety.”
Resource: FCC Secures Live-saving Commitments
FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr has applauded the introduction of the Secure Equipment Act by U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and U.S. Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.). Their legislation would close a loophole that allows equipment from Huawei, ZTE and others to continue to be used in the United States despite the FCC’s determination that those entities pose an unacceptable risk to national security. Two months ago, Carr highlighted the loophole that Huawei and others have been using during an event at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).
“I applaud Senator Rubio and Senator Markey for their leadership and bold action,” Carr said. “Their legislation would strengthen our national security by ensuring that we close the loophole that Huawei and others are using right now, despite our determination that their gear poses an unacceptable risk to our national security.”
Last year, the FCC adopted rules that require U.S. telecom carriers to remove and replace equipment produced by Huawei, ZTE and other entities due to national security concerns. Carr said that it was an important step that substantially advanced America’s national security.
“However,” Carr said, “those rules only apply to equipment purchased with federal funding. The FCC’s rules expressly allow carriers to use private funds to purchase and use that exact same equipment. And Huawei has been taking advantage of that backdoor into our networks. Indeed, a review of the FCC’s database shows that over 3,000 applications from Huawei alone have been approved since 2018, ranging from network gear to tracking devices.”
Carr said that it is time to close what he called a glaring loophole.
“Once we have determined that Huawei or other gear poses an unacceptable national security risk, it makes no sense to allow that exact same equipment to be purchased and inserted into our communications networks as long as federal dollars are not involved,” he said. “The presence of these insecure devices in our networks is the threat, not the source of funding used to purchase them. Senator Rubio and Senator Markey are taking the quick and decisive action necessary to safeguard our national security. And I am pleased that they have worked to introduce this legislation.”
U.S. Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation, and the Internet, and Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), the ranking member of the subcommittee, have reintroduced the Streamlining the Rapid Evolution And Modernization of Leading-edge Infrastructure Necessary to Enhance Small Cell Deployment Act or STREAMLINE Small Cell Deployment Act.
National Association of Tower Erectors Executive Director Todd Schlekeway, said, “The association originally supported this legislation during the previous Congress and is pleased that it has been reintroduced in the 116th Congress. NATE member contractors are currently on the front lines densifying wireless networks through small cell installations and this legislation, coupled with the FCC’s leadership on key streamlining reforms, will ultimately serve to expedite the process of deploying the hundreds of thousands of small cell antennas and related infrastructure that is necessary to enable 5G connectivity in the United States.”
The legislation updates the Communications Act to better reflect developing technology and facilitate the rapid deployment of 5G networks to meet consumer demand by setting reasonable standards for public review of infrastructure siting while recognizing the unique challenges for small municipalities.
“I commend Senator Thune and Senator Schatz for their leadership on smart infrastructure policies,” said FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr in prepared text. “Their bill demonstrates bipartisan support for fee limits, timelines, and other reforms that are key to accelerating the buildout of 5G infrastructure in communities across the country. If passed, their work to modernize our country’s approach to small cells would notch another solid win for the U.S. in the race to 5G.”
Key provisions of the STREAMLINE Small Cell Deployment Act
· Permits must be approved or denied on publicly available criteria that are reasonable, objective, and non-discriminatory.
· Small cell applications may be denied or regulated for objective and reasonable structural engineering standards, safety requirements or aesthetic or concealment requirements.
· Applications must be acted on no later than 60 days for requests to collocate equipment and 90 days for other requests.
· Flexibility and additional time is allowed for small municipalities (fewer than 50,000 residents).
· Empowers the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to grant flexibility by issuing a one-time 30-day waiver of the timeframes required for action upon a request by a state or local government.
· Requirements for reasonable state and local fees for processing applications
· Fees must be publicly disclosed, competitively neutral, technology neutral, nondiscriminatory and based on actual and direct costs (including, for example, costs for maintenance and inspections).