US lawmakers back billion-dollar plan to replace Huawei network equipment

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(Image credit: Shutterstock / ImYanis)

Donald Trump may be leaving office, but it appears that relations between the US and China may continue to remain tense after US lawmakers agreed to a multi-billion-dollar plan to remove technology made by two high-profile Chinese firms.

A Huawei ban effectively came into force last year after the Chinese company was added to the US Department of Commerce's Bureau of Industry and Security Entity List and now the process is underway to remove any existing telecoms equipment owned by the highlighted companies.

It has been confirmed that $1.9 billion of funding will be set aside to remove telecom network equipment that the US Government believes poses a security risk. In addition to Huawei, the decision also affect equipment manufactured by China’s ZTE Corporation.

Huawei has expressed its disappointment in the decision, arguing that the ban will damage the ability of poorer US residents to access reliable network communications. The US has a ready-made response to this line of argument, however, in the shape of a $3.2 billion emergency broadband benefit scheme for low-income Americans.

Digital divide

The new US funding initiatives are part of a broader $900 billion COVID-19 relief bill. The pandemic has shone a spotlight on the digital inequalities that have allowed to grow unchecked in the US and other nations. Often, it has been poorer areas that have not been able to access the reliable digital communications needed to continue working or learning in the era of social distancing.

In addition, sources claim that the bill will also include $285 million for establishing better network communications for minority communities, and offer financial support for “minority-serving education institutions.”

Despite being the world’s economic leader, the US has a deeply ingrained digital divide. A staggering 14% of households with school-aged children in the country lack internet access, according to recent research by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration.

Via Reuters

Barclay Ballard

Barclay has been writing about technology for a decade, starting out as a freelancer with ITProPortal covering everything from London’s start-up scene to comparisons of the best cloud storage services.  After that, he spent some time as the managing editor of an online outlet focusing on cloud computing, furthering his interest in virtualization, Big Data, and the Internet of Things.