Comments Requested on Interim Rule Banning U.S. Federal Agencies from Buying Chinese Equipment
Thursday, August 08, 2019 | Comments

The U.S. government is accepting comment on draft rule that would ban federal agencies from buying telecommunications and video surveillance equipment from five Chinese companies, including Hytera Communications and Huawei.

The ban was included in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) passed last year, and restricted the use of federal money to purchase telecommunications equipment and services and video surveillance equipment from “covered” telecommunications companies, citing national security concerns. The interim rule is set to go into effect Aug. 13.

The General Services Administration (GSA), the U.S. government contracting agency, will accept comments on the rule for 60 days before it releases a final version. Agencies could request a two-year waiver.

The other three Chinese companies include Hangzhou Hikvision, Dahua Technology and ZTE. Motorola Solutions CEO Greg Brown discussed the ban during the company’s financial results this week, saying the U.S. vendor expects higher sales of federal video gear in 2020 because of it.

A broader ban, which will apply to contracts with any company that uses equipment from the Chinese companies, will take effect in August 2020.

“This interim rule revises the FAR to implement section 889(a)(1)(A) of the NDAA for FY (fiscal year) 2019 (Pub. L. 115-232),” the GSA said. “Section 889(a)(1)(A) prohibits agencies from procuring or obtaining, or extending or renewing a contract to procure or obtain, any equipment, system, or service that uses covered telecommunications equipment or services as a substantial or essential component of any system, or as a critical technology as part of any system, on or after Aug. 13, 2019.”

Under the rule, “covered telecommunications equipment or services” means “for the purpose of public safety, security of government facilities, physical security surveillance of critical infrastructure, and other national security purposes, video surveillance and telecommunications equipment produced by Hytera Communications Corporation, Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology Company or Dahua Technology Company (or any subsidiary or affiliate of such entities).”

“The 'interim' rule published yesterday is a first step in the federal rulemaking process, and characterizations that this is a completed proceeding are inaccurate," said a Hytera spokesman. "Hytera is actively participating in the federal government's rulemaking process regarding the implementation of Section 889. The interim rule that was published is specific only to federal procurement, and is essentially the statute's prior language including available exemptions, with an upcoming 60-day comment period. As part of this process, the public will provide input that will be used by the federal government to issue permanent rules. Hytera will be working with those agencies to ensure clear definitions are included, and the equipment exemptions from the statute are made clear. Hytera supports the efforts to protect the nation's telecommunications infrastructure, and remains ready to work alongside U.S. government entities to achieve this mission."

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On 8/15/19, Leon van der Linde said:
Why don't they ban all equipment bought from companies outside the U.S?
Then they only buy from the companies manufacturing in the U.S., and they can control the security of the companies. Also ban all equipment manufactured by U.S. companies in other countries including China, India and Singapore. Then they have perfect security, and the U.S. companies that want the monopoly can then smile. This is only an effort by certain U.S. companies with government ties that are threatened by foreign companies, and they now want to have the monopoly. You can see it in the court cases that they are involved in.

On 8/14/19, Ron Smith said:
The chaos in domestic applications for radio communications is being overlooked in the paranoia associated with radio equipment manufactured in China. I am dismayed by the number of radio system users who do not have an FCC authorization, and some are using radios that are not type accepted for use in the USA. We who represent the professional side of radio communications distribution and service are powerless to limit such violations. When the FCC backed out of the enforcement business and eliminated the requirement for licensing of radio technicians, it gave up the radio communications industry to a new breed of rule-breaking scavengers who are not held accountable. Worry about China? Worry instead about a commercial radio wild west with no sheriff in town.

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