Renesas told to stop saying US has banned Quectel IoT modules

Renesas told to stop saying US has banned Quectel IoT modules

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By Peter Clarke

Quectel Wireless Solutions Co. Ltd. (Shanghai, China), a vendor of wireless IoT products, has sent a cease-and-desist letter to Renesas Electronics Corp. (Tokyo, Japan) demanding it stop saying that Quectel modules have been banned by the US government.

Quectel claims that Renesas sent a PowerPoint presentation to Quectel’s customers saying that and that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has granted a request from the US House of Representatives to ban Quectel’s IoT modules, and that the modules are now on a banned list.

Quectel asserts that both these statements are untrue and defamatory.  It has called for Renesas to retract the statements and make a correction.

Quectel makes cellular modules from 2G/3G up to 5G, GNSS satellite modules and modules for Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connection as well as providing antennas and services.

On September 6 Reuters reported that FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel asked US government agencies to consider declaring that Chinese companies including Quectel and Fibocom Wireless pose national security risks. Previously the Republican chair of the House of Representatives China Select Committee, Mike Gallagher, and Democrat Raja Krishnamoorthi had asked the FCC to consider adding to the two companies to its so-called Covered List, the report said.

“It has recently come to our attention that a number of competitors are propagating false and defamatory rumors and distributing material containing false and defamatory statements to Quectel’s customers and potential customers,” said Norbert Muhrer, chief sales officer at Quectel, in a statement. He added: “We will vigorously defend ourselves against false claims and we will not tolerate untrue and defamatory practices targeting Quectel and its customers. To be clear, Quectel’s IoT modules are not, and never have been, on the FCC’s Covered List or any other US government agency list that would subject Quectel or its products to restrictions of any kind.”

Submissions to the FCC

Quectel acknowledged that it has made submissions to the FCC trying to make the case that its modules do not pose a risk to national security or privacy. Quectel’s most recent submission to the FCC on this subject is here.

One of the concerns discussed is that Quectel could, in some way, retain control over IoT modules and even if the company could not exfiltrate data, it could disable a module designed into critical infrastructure. Quectel claims that a letter sent to the FCC by the Select Committee to the US Congress contained several misconceptions about how Quectel modules work.

Quectel said it has retained Finite State Inc. (Columbus, Ohio) an independent security firm, to conduct an audit and penetration testing of Quectel’s modules and has received high marks for the security and transparency of its modules.

The statement concluded: “Quectel looks forward to demonstrating its modules’ security to government officials. It also is determined to prevent competitors like Renesas from spreading falsehoods about its products.”

Renesas sent its own statement to eeNews Europe saying: “We are aware of the matter and currently examining the accusation. We have no comment at this time.”

Quectel was founded in 2010 and is headquartered in Shanghai, China. The company has R&D offices at multiple sites in China and in Vancouver, Canada; Belgrade, Serbia; and Penang, Malaysia.

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