Procurement

Sprint, SoftBank pledge to avoid Huawei after merger

china flag

Equipment manufactured by Chinese firm Huawei will not be used in Sprint's network, reflecting concerns about espionage and new restrictions on agencies.

Agencies that are now legally required to avoid certain China-sourced technologies have one less vendor to worry about: Japanese telecom company SoftBank and its merger partner Sprint pledged to keep equipment manufactured by Chinese firm Huawei out of Sprint's network, according to a statement released by House Select Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.).

The pledge reflects increasing concern among U.S. policymakers about cyber espionage emanating from China, and comes just days after President Obama signed into law a continuing resolution that includes new restrictions on the ability of four federal agencies to acquire IT equipment with ties to Chinese state-owned or state-directed firms.

Softbank and Sprint are tied up in a $20 billion deal that requires approval from the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), an inter-agency working group run out of the Treasury. "I expect [Softbank and Sprint] to make the same assurances before any approval of the deal in the CFIUS process," Rogers said. "I am pleased with their mitigation plans, but will continue to look for opportunities to improve the government’s existing authorities to thoroughly review all the national security aspects of proposed transactions.”

Rogers's committee issued a report in October 2012 that suggested U.S. firms avoid doing business with Huawei and ZTE, because the two Chinese IT companies posed a potential threat to U.S. security.

Huawei has consistently denied any involvement in spying directed at the United States. Company spokesman Bill Plummer told The Hill that the move could "set a nasty protectionist precedent that could be used against American companies in other markets."

About the Author

Adam Mazmanian is a staff writer covering Congress, the FCC and other key agencies. Connect with him on Twitter: @thisismaz.

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