The Federal Communications Commission on Friday said small carriers could cost an estimated $1.8 billion for removing Chinese equipment. The report accounts that a maximum of $1.6 billion of the cost would qualify for federal reimbursements but Congress has yet to assign the necessary funds.
image credit: The Quint
In July, FCC officially classified Huawei and ZTE as a national security threat, but many small carriers are still struggling financially to replace it.
Eastern Oregon Telecom suffered hard with replacing the $500,000 of Huawei equipment that cost around $1.5 million – quite a lot for the small carrier to handle on its own.
The FCC report particularly centred on carriers who receive support from the Universal Service Fund, which is supposed to subsidize coverage of underserved areas. Though, these funds don’t cover all carriers in the US using Huawei or ZTE equipment, including unreported eligible carriers.
Consequently, the total cost of replacing Chinese equipment is probably even higher than the reported $1.8 billion.
Congress has yet to assign the money to process the replacement work. However, they have established it for reimbursing carriers as part of the Secure and Trusted Communications Networks Act in March.
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai pressed Congress to take action and assign the essential funds to the carriers.
He said that with the identification of insecure services or equipment in our networks, we would be able to work and ensure that such networks – particularly those belonging to rural and small carriers – rely on trusted vendor’s infrastructure. Pai said that he strongly believes that Congress must provide adequate funding to reimburse all those carriers who wish to replace any services or equipment, recognized as a national security threat.