According to a new report, ZTE, Huawei and other Chinese manufacturers continue to sell their equipment to US schools, hospitals and other entities even after federal efforts to prevent such transactions at a nationwide level.
"The single largest buyer in our dataset, a midsize public university in Michigan, invested some $15.1 million in Huawei LTE networking equipment (nodes, transceivers, base stations, and power systems) and related support services between 2015 and 2021," according to the new report from Georgetown University's Center for Security and Emerging Technology (CSET). "Similarly, a pair of public school districts in northeast Arkansas each spent more than $1 million on Hikvision surveillance systems, and a charter school district in a major Texas city spent more than $550,000 on Hytera two-way radios."
As noted by Axios, the report doesn't name the specific entities that purchased the equipment.
Nonetheless, the situation has raised concerns among some US policymakers.
"When the technologies are deployed in government networks, they can serve as entry points for any other networks that are connected to them," Michael Kratsios, co-author of the report and former CTO of the United States, told Axios.
The CSET report analyzed public government procurement records provided by GovSpend. It found that, between 2015 and 2021, at least 1,681 state and local entities purchased equipment that's prohibited at the federal level.
"Collectively, these entities conducted nearly 5,700 transactions involving a wide range of covered equipment including but not limited to smartphones, surveillance cameras, temperature scanners, handheld radios, and networking equipment," according to the report, which named vendors including Huawei, ZTE, Hikvision, Dahua and Hytera.
It continued: "The total value of these purchases was approximately $45.2 million. While the scale of transactions may seem small in terms of monetary value, it is significant in terms of potential risk. Each piece of covered equipment represents a potential entry point into users' networks, regardless of its cost."