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Fed's case against Huawei in cell networks tracks 'unprofitable' deals near US military bases

Fed's case against Huawei in cell networks tracks 'unprofitable' deals near US military bases

Huawei's FBI investigation suggests the Chinese telecommunications company had a pattern of installing equipment on cell towers near military bases in rural America -- even if doing so was not profitable, according to a CNN report. The discovered investigation sheds some light on the motive behind the US government's stalled "rip and replace" program, which calls for the removal of Huawei's technology across the country.

According to CNN, the federal investigation centers around the ability of Huawei's equipment to intercept military communications transmitted by the US Strategic Command, the agency tasked with handling the US nuclear arsenal. It's no secret that Huawei sold cheap equipment to smaller, regional telecommunications providers in states like Colorado, Montana, Nebraska and Oregon, but as CNN reports, it raised suspicion among federal agents. As CNN points out, investigators found that Huawei did not benefit financially from these rural, low-traffic locations, but were located close to military bases.

John Lencart, a former senior FBI agent, told CNN that investigators "began to investigate [Huawei] less from a technical lens and more from a business/financial standpoint," noting that he had found companies in those locations. It didn't make sense from a return on investment perspective." While the FBI reportedly found that Huawei's equipment could technically intercept military communications, sources close to the situation told CNN that one of the stolen information The piece is hard to detect. Actually prove it.

In a statement to CNN, Huawei denied any claims that its equipment is capable of interfering with US military communications. "Our equipment only operates on spectrum allocated by the FCC for commercial use," Huawei told CNN. "That means it cannot access any spectrum allocated to the DoD [Department of Defense]." Huawei did not immediately respond to The Verge's request for comment.

A Reuters report points to the presence of a similar ongoing investigation by the Commerce Department that began shortly after President Joe Biden entered office. The agency is also concerned about the possibility that Huawei equipment could disrupt communications with nearby missile silos and military bases. According to Reuters, the Commerce Department may impose further sanctions on Huawei in the country if it considers the company a national security threat.

In 2019, the US began cracking down on both Huawei and China-based ZTE over concerns that they pose a threat to the country's security, prompting telecommunications providers to use federal subsidies to buy equipment belonging to either company. inspire to. stop from The FCC later announced a rip-and-replace program to get rid of pre-installed devices—three years later, companies are still using banned devices, partly because of a lack of funding.

Since the scheme was first launched, the estimated cost associated with replacing existing equipment has increased from $1.8 billion in September 2020 to $5.6 billion in February 2022. This is a major concern for smaller telecom providers, who depend on funding to replace Huawei's equipment, a brand. They probably chose it because of its power. On Friday, FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel sent a letter to Congress (PDF) explaining that the agency is short on $3.08 billion on the funds needed to fully reimburse telecommunications providers. The FCC can cover only 39.5 percent of the total $4.98 billion needed to satisfy telecommunications providers applying for the program.

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