Another rural telecom company came out in support of China’s Huawei. Mark Twain Communications, which offers telecom services in parts of Missouri, said it currently uses Huawei’s wireless network equipment because Huawei’s gear is “the most dependable and affordable option.”
More importantly, Mark Twain executives said the company had been planning to spend some of the $3 million it recently received from the government’s Connect America Fund Phase II (CAF II) auction on equipment from Huawei.
The situation is notable because a wide range of federal government officials have been arguing that U.S. telecom operators should be banned from purchasing Huawei equipment because the Chinese government will use that equipment to spy on Americans. Huawei, for its part, has loudly and vehemently argued against that claim for years—and recently the company has rallied support among its rural operator customers in the United States.
Specifically, earlier this year almost a dozen rural telecom companies, including SI Wireless, Viaero, United Telephone Association and Union Telephone Company, said they use Huawei equipment, and they urged regulators not to ban the Chinese company from the U.S. market.
Now, in a recent filing with the FCC (PDF), Mark Twain Communications added its voice to the supporters of Huawei.
“Mark Twain submitted bids in the Connect America Fund Phase II (CAF II) auction based on cost estimates for expanding its existing infrastructure, which currently includes Huawei equipment,” the company wrote, noting that Mark Twain executives “urged the FCC to not adopt rules that would jeopardize receipt of USF [Universal Service Fund] funds by Mark Twain’s continued use of Huawei equipment and noted that should the FCC tie the use of certain equipment to the USF, Mark Twain would likely be forced to terminate its existing rural wireless network.”
According to one of the company’s recent reports, Mark Twain offers DSL, fiber and fixed wireless services in parts of rural Missouri. In fixed wireless specifically, Mark Twain said it transmits from 40 locations and counted 1,774 wireless customers at the end of 2016.