T-Mobile CEO John Legere told lawmakers on Capitol Hill Tuesday, the company’s network does not include technology or products from Chinese telecoms Huawei and ZTE. And they won’t be in the combined 5G network of T-Mobile and Sprint if the two carriers are allowed to merge, he told a panel of the House Judiciary Committee during a hearing on the proposed deal.
Rural Wireless Association General Counsel Carri Bennet said some of its members, roughly about a quarter, have equipment from both companies in their networks. “They did it” because of the low cost, she said. “They did it before” anyone “knew it was a problem,” she explained, referring to U.S. security concerns about the Chinese telecoms.
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), asked when these small, rural carriers will address the security concerns.
“We plan to do what the federal government says to do,” she replied. “To the extent” that equipment needs to be replaced, “we’re going to need funding.” Bennet said. The RWA is in talks with the FCC and other government agencies about the issue, she explained.
Legere added: “Frankly, I think we’ve even offered to play a role with the Rural Wireless Association to help them possibly use some of our pricing power to purchase alternative equipment. The existence of it in their networks concerns us,” he said.
When questioned by Gaetz, Bennet confirmed reports that some rural wireless carriers with Chinese telecom gear in their networks are close to U.S. military bases. Inside Towers reported on the issue Monday.
By Leslie Stimson, Inside Towers Washington Bureau Chief
March 14, 2019