According to a new report from the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC), it will cost small carriers $ 1.8 billion to get rid of Chinese equipment. The report says that about $ 1.6 billion of this amount is planned to be compensated for by federal subsidies, but Congress has not yet allocated the necessary funds.
There have long been serious national security concerns over the use of Huawei and ZTE equipment on US networks, but many smaller carriers still cannot afford replacement. For example, Eastern Oregon Telecom told The Verge that it would cost $ 1.5 million to replace Huawei’s $ 500,000 equipment, which is too much for a small operator. Stories like this are pretty common.
The FCC report examines telecom operators that receive support from the Universal Service Fund to subsidize coverage of underserved areas. It does not apply to all US carriers using Huawei or ZTE equipment. There may also be operators who have not yet announced that they have a Chinese network infrastructure. As a result, the total cost of replacing equipment is likely to even exceed the $ 1.8 billion announced.
In June, the FCC formally designated Huawei and ZTE as national security risks, barring telecom companies from using federal subsidies to purchase their equipment in the future. But little has been done to remove existing Huawei and ZTE equipment, primarily because carriers cannot afford it without federal assistance.
The US Congress has not yet allocated money to pay for the replacement process, although in March it approved a process for reimbursing telecom operators under the Secure and Reliable Communications Networks Act. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai called on Congress to take action and provide the necessary funds.
“Having identified the presence of unsafe equipment and services in our networks, we can now work to ensure that these networks, especially those of small and rural telecom operators, rely on infrastructure from trusted providers. – said in the statement of Mr. Pai. – Once again, I urge Congress to allocate appropriate funds to reimburse operators for the cost of replacing any equipment or service deemed a threat to national security. ”
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