How The Trade War Could Risk Rural Broadband Access In The US

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The modern world of tech is notoriously interconnected, so the US crackdown on Huawei has had some unexpected consequences on some American communities.

For the small Pennsylvania town of South Canaan, it took five years of hard work to gain access to high-speed internet. Now, that work may have been all for nothing. For the town of South Canaan, LHTC Broadband is one of the very few cable providers covering the town. The CEO of LHTC broadband spoke with Newsy, explaining that after shopping around for effective and affordable broadband equipment, he decided to make the purchase from Chinese telecom firm Huawei. According to CEO Jim Kail, Huawei’s prices and reliability made them an attractive option for small businesses like the one he runs. “The product is very competitively priced. And we decided to give it a shot in this new location. Now we’re caught into this, as you know, this trade war, whatever’s happening there,” Kail explained to Newsy.

The Federal Communications Commission has proposed the strongest actions against Huawei of any of the US regulatory bodies. The FCC has proposed barring businesses that do business with Huawei from the Universal Service Fund. The USF is not very well known in the US, but it’s a critical source of funding for rural broadband projects. Companies that do business with Huawei and would like to continue doing so may soon need to choose between cutting ties with the Chinese telecom giant or giving up on their funding. The problem is that for many small businesses serving the more remote areas of the US, Huawei simply offers the most affordable deals. It’s unclear to what extent the tech war will harm American companies and consumers, but in the interconnected world of tech, communities like South Canaan might be among the first victims.

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3 months ago