2018 saw Huawei and ZTE face tough criticism from the United States regarding the national security threat the White House says both companies pose on the country, and as we head into the new year, it doesn't look like things are going to be lightening up at all.
According to a report from Reuters, President Trump could issue an executive order as early as January 2019 that would require the Commerce Department to stop the sale of any and all telecommunications equipment from foreign brands that are seen as a national security threat. Although not currently named explicitly in the order, this would clearly have a big impact on Huawei and ZTE.
Per the report:
The executive order would invoke the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, a law that gives the president the authority to regulate commerce in response to a national emergency that threatens the United States. The issue has new urgency as U.S. wireless carriers look for partners as they prepare to adopt next generation 5G wireless networks.
Neither company responded to Reuters with a comment on the news, nor did the White House.
Should the order go through, it's noted that it could have serious implications on rural businesses throughout the country.
Rural operators in the United States are among the biggest customers of Huawei and ZTE, and fear the executive order would also require them to rip out existing Chinese-made equipment without compensation. Industry officials are divided on whether the administration could legally compel operators to do that.
While the big U.S. wireless companies have cut ties with Huawei in particular, small rural carriers have relied on Huawei and ZTE switches and other equipment because they tend to be less expensive.
Considering everything the U.S. has put Huawei and ZTE through this past year, a move like this doesn't come as a surprise at all. Here's to seeing what happens in the coming days.