National security concerns raised by Chinese tech firms including Huawei, one of the world’s largest cellphone makers, have caused congress members to quietly pressure AT&T towards cutting ties with that company and others, Reuters reported Tuesday.
Lawmakers lobbied AT&T to walk away this month from a deal to sell Huawei smartphones to U.S. customers, and companies with ties to Huawei and China Mobile, a state-run telecom and the world’s largest mobile phone network operator, risk losing the ability to do business with the U.S. government if they don’t distance themselves from either, congressional aides told Reuters on condition of anonymity.
“The next wave of wireless communication has enormous economic and national security implications,” said Michael Wessel, a member of the congressionally-established U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission. “China’s participation in setting the standards and selling the equipment raises many national security issues that demand strict and prompt attention,” he told Reuters.
Last week, AT&T abruptly canceled plans to carry a Huawei smartphone, aborting what could have introduced potentially tens of millions of new Huawei devices into the U.S. market. Two Republican lawmakers, Rep. Michael Conaway of Texas and Liz Cheney of Wyoming, have since introduced legislation barring the U.S. government from doing business with either Huawei or ZTE Corp., another major Chinese electronics maker.
Lawmakers have separately urged AT&T to stop collaborating with Huawei over standards for the high-speed next generation 5G network, as well as the use of Huawei-made cellphones by Cricket, an AT&T subsidiary, Reuters reported.
Additionally AT&T is being asked to oppose plans to let China Mobile enter the U.S. market, calling into question the fate of the telecom’s application before the Federal Communications Commission, the report said. China Mobile has wanted to do business in the U.S. since at 2011, but some lawmakers insist their introduction risks damaging national security as…