FCC Moves to Block Spending USF Funds on Chinese Telecom Equipment
Tuesday, April 17, 2018 | Comments

The FCC proposed prohibiting money from the $8.5 billion a year Universal Service Fund (USF) from being spent on equipment or services from suppliers that raise national security concerns. Chinese firms are not named in the FCC notice but several Chinese firms have been targeted by the U.S. government as security threats.

In Tuesday’s FCC action, the FCC is seeking comment on a proposal to prohibit use of USF funds on the purchase of equipment or services from any company that poses a national security threat to the integrity of U.S. communications networks or the communications supply chain. The notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) also seeks comment on a number of issues, including how best to implement the proposed prohibition on the use of USF support going forward, what types of equipment and services should be covered by the proposed rule, and how the FCC should identify which suppliers are covered by the proposed rule, among other questions.

“While the FCC alone can’t safeguard our networks from these threats, it does have an important role to play in addressing this problem,” the notice said. “Specifically, as the steward of the USF, the FCC has a responsibility to ensure that the money in the fund — which comes from fees paid by American consumers and businesses on their phone bills — is not spent on equipment or services from suppliers that raise national security concerns.

In February, the Land Mobile Communications Council (LMCC) submitted a letter to Rosemary Harold, chief of the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau, requesting a meeting about the widespread use of noncompliant wireless devices in the LMR industry.

In the letter signed by LMCC officers Farokh Latif and Mark Crosby, LMCC said the devices, which come predominantly from Asia, are marketed for use by any entity, for any purpose, complete with programming instructions for operation on any channel potentially ranging from 136 –174 MHz and 400 – 520 MHz without information relating to spectrum allocations, user eligibility or licensing requirements. The LMCC said that this presents a serious risk of harmful interference to federal systems and FCC-compliant systems operated by public safety and business/industrial licensees.

The full April 17 notice is here.

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On 4/18/18, Radio Randy said:
This is likely to hit a number of ham radio operators just getting started in the hobby.

On 4/18/18, Nick Ruark said:
At some point, the FCC's Enforcement Bureau really needs to seriously look into the many cheap Chinese and Asian portable and mobile UHF and VHF radios being sold online and on Amazon and used illegally on Part 90 spectrum by business/industrial and public-safety licensees.

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