FCC Asked To Investigate Huawei's US Smartphone Plans: Report

The U.S. Congress asked the Federal Communications Commission to investigate Huawei's smartphone ambitions in the country, Bloomberg reports, citing a letter a number of lawmakers addressed to Chairman Ajit Pai. The order was reportedly issued in December and it's currently unclear whether the FCC complied with the request that mentioned unspecified yet concerning findings of some congressional intelligence committees in regards to the supposed security threat the Chinese firm poses to the U.S. The scope of the investigation that the FCC was asked to initiate is also unknown. Verizon recently scrapped its plans to retail Huawei-made devices in the country, thus following AT&T's example, giving up on the idea of partnering with the company due to political pressure from Washington, according to the same source. Neither party confirmed the report that signals Huawei's ambitions to establish itself in the world's largest market for ultra-premium mobile devices are over for the foreseeable future.

The government and some Congress representatives previously pressured wireless carriers in the United States to cut all commercial ties with Huawei or risk losing lucrative federal contracts, recent reports suggest. Similar pressure was applied in regards to China Telecom and ZTE, though the latter still has its devices retailed by three of the four national carriers or their subsidiaries, albeit it only accounts for a couple of percentage points of the U.S. phone market, according to a number of industry trackers. Various government officials and politicians are understood to be opposing the idea of allowing the telecom giant to do business in the U.S. on a large scale due to spying concerns. Huawei's devices already work on both Verizon and AT&T's networks and have been available for purchase from online storefronts like Amazon for over a year now but the vast majority of annual handset sales in the country are made by wireless carriers, with Huawei's commercial prospects in the U.S. thus essentially being non-existent without support from big telecoms.

Smartphones are only a small part of the reason why Huawei is facing stiff political opposition on its road to establishing a major U.S. presence, many industry watchers believe, arguing that Washington is much more concerned about avoiding a scenario in which the Chinese tech giant plays a major role in the future deployment of 5G networks in the country. Fears of spying led to significant pressure on AT&T to put an end to its 5G partnership with Huawei, insiders previously claimed, whereas the White House even considered nationalizing 5G deployment efforts in recent months due to the same concerns, according to a National Security Council memo that was leaked on Sunday.

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Dominik Bosnjak

Senior Writer
Dominik started at AndroidHeadlines in 2016. He’s approaching his first full decade in the media industry, with his background being primarily in technology, gaming, and entertainment. These days, his focus is more on the political side of the tech game, as well as data privacy issues, with him looking at both of those through the prism of Android. Contact him at [email protected]