FCC Chair Says Quectel, Fibocom Wireless IoT Modules Pose National Security Risk

Companies may be added to “Covered List” that bans certain components…

Chinese companies Quectel and Fibocom Wireless’ IoT modules pose grave national security risks, said FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel this week in letters seen by Reuters.  Last month, Mike Gallagher, the Republican chair of a U.S. House of Representatives China Select Committee, and the top Democrat, Raja Krishnamoorthiwrote a letter to the FCC to consider adding both companies to a “Covered List.”

In March 2021, the list designated five Chinese companies—Huawai TechnologiesZTEHytera CommunicationsHangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology and Zhejiang Dahua Technology—as posing security national risks.

FCC Chairwoman says Quectel IoT modules pose national security risk (Image: Quectel).

As part of the letter to the FCC, the House committee said that cellular connectivity modules are components that enable IoT devices in cars, medical equipment, tractors to connect to the internet.  “Connectivity modules are typically controlled remotely and are the necessary link between the device and the internet,” the letter said.

The letter also cited Russia’s theft of $5 million worth of farm equipment from a John Deere DE -0.09%↓ dealership in Ukraine that was embedded with Western-made connectivity modules.  “Because the modules can be controlled remotely and the vehicles require internet connectivity to operate, remotely shutting down the module allows the module provider to shut the vehicle down.  When Russia moved the stolen John Deere vehicles across the border into Russia, the modules were disabled—shutting down the equipment and effectively turning the vehicles into bricks,” the letter said.

For its part, Quectel said the letter to the FCC had several misconceptions about how its modules work. “We welcome the opportunity to work with the FCC and other U.S. government entities to demonstrate our compliance and best practice device security approach,” says Norbert Muhrer, president and CSO, Quectel Wireless Solutions, in a statement.

In addition to cellular modules, Quectel also provides Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GNSS modules and antennas.


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