US lawmakers are calling on AT&T to cut all commercial ties to Chinese telecom equipment maker Huawei Technologies due to perceived national security concerns, according to Reuters.
Citing two unidentified congressional aides, the news agency reports that AT&T, the No.2 wireless carrier in the US, has also been urged to oppose plans by telecom operator China Mobile to enter the US market.
Lawmakers are advising American companies that if they have ties to Huawei or China Mobile, it could hamper their ability to do business with the US government, a source was quoted as saying.
One of the commercial ties senators and House members reportedly want AT&T to cut is its collaboration with Huawei over standards for the high-speed next generation 5G network.
Another is the use of Huawei handsets by AT&T’s discount subsidiary Cricket.
AT&T declined to comment but said that it has made no decisions on 5G suppliers, according to Reuters.
Earlier this month, AT&T was forced to scrap a plan to offer its customers Huawei handsets after some members of Congress reportedly lobbied against the idea with federal regulators.
National security experts fear that any data from a Huawei device, for example about the location of the phone’s user, would be available to Chinese government intelligence services.
In 2012, Huawei and fellow Chinese telecom equipment maker ZTE were the subject of a US investigation into whether their equipment provide an opportunity for foreign espionage and threaten critical US infrastructure.
Huawei has consistently dismissed such fears, and said it puts the privacy and security of its customers as its top priority.
The US government has also blocked a string of Chinese acquisitions over national security concerns, including Ant Financial’s proposed purchase of US money transfer firm MoneyGram.
Lawmakers do not want China Mobile to be given a license to do business in the United States, Reuters cited the congressional aides as saying.
China Mobile applied for the license in 2011, and the application is pending before the US Federal Communications Commission.
Huawei and Chinese telecom firms have long struggled to gain a toehold in the US market, partly because of US government pressure on potential US partners, Reuters noted.
Two Republican lawmakers, Representatives Michael Conaway and Liz Cheney, introduced a bill this week that bars the US government from using or contracting with Huawei or ZTE.
– Contact us at [email protected]