US carriers want $5.6B from the FCC for axing Huawei and ZTE

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Carriers in the US are seeking $5.6 billion in reimbursements following the FCC’s decision to axe Huawei and ZTE from national telecoms networks.

The FCC voted unanimously in 2019 to ban carriers from using the Universal Service Fund to subsidise purchasing equipment from companies deemed a national security threat. Huawei and ZTE were the first two firms to be classed as such threats.

In 2020, former President Donald Trump signed the Secure and Trusted Telecommunications Networks Act that forces carriers to remove equipment from Huawei and ZTE from their networks.

Unlike many European countries, equipment from Huawei and ZTE isn’t widely used in US networks. US carriers that use gear from the vendors tend to be smaller operators that have sought to keep their rollout costs down and are disproportionately impacted by the FCC’s decision.

Recognising the difficulties some carriers would face by its decision, the FCC established the Secure and Trusted Communications Networks Reimbursement Program (PDF) to cover the costs of removing, replacing, and disposing of allegedly insecure equipment and services in US networks.

FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said:

“Last year, Congress created a first-of-its kind program for the FCC to reimburse service providers for their efforts to increase the security of our nations communications networks.

We’ve received over 181 applications from carriers who have developed plans to remove and replace equipment in their networks that pose a national security threat.  

While we have more work to do to review these applications, I look forward to working with Congress to ensure that there is enough funding available for this program to advance Congress’s security goals and ensure that the US will continue to lead the way on 5G security.”

The Commission opened the filing window for the program on October 29 2021. The window closed on January 28 2022.

(Photo by Abby Savage on Unsplash)

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